Last week, criminal charges were filed against a German Rabbi David Goldberg for performing circumcisions. A doctor from Hesse filed the criminal complaint.
The complaint follows a case in Cologne where a Muslim boy spent ten days in the hospital following a botched circumcision. Te court found that the circumcision of a child for religious reasons should be considered physical assault and that "neither the parents' rights nor the right to religious freedom can justify what constitutes bodily harm." Chancellor Angela Merkel told her party the country risked becoming a "laughing stock" due to the ruling.
Amidst growing talk of a crisis of intolerance in Europe, the criminal charge against the rabbi has sparked new outrage among Jews and Muslims worldwide, who accuse authorities of infringing on religious freedom.
Rabbi Josh Spinner, CEO of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, spoke with Russia Today to express his views on what he thinks is a growing intolerance toward religious minorities throughout Europe. He noted that although he thought that the probability is high that there will be a German legislative solution that will allow religious ritual circumcision, media and political bodies that are lower than the legislature are not as tolerant. "The question is what impact will this debate have on relations between the Muslim and Jewish communities and the German political body and what kind of long-term effect this will have going forward on this kind of discussion. In short, this is not going in a good direction."
Russia Today noted that religious intolerance has been growing in Europe, citing the burqa ban in France. Spinner says that the repercussions of Germany's circumcision ban will be felt in the Scandinavian countries and in Austria and Switzerland, and tied it to the minaret ban in Switzerland , the burqa ban, and the ritual slaughter issue in Holland as an example of growing religious intolerance. He said that the circumcision issue is "a fabulous issue" for those who are uncomfortable with minorities because their intolerance is "cloaked" in "protecting the rights of infants," adding that the issue becomes "noble" and harder to defend than issues like burqas or minarets or ritual slaughter.
The circumcision issue "unites almost all Jews and almost all Muslims," Spinner opined about religious intolerance, saying "it's killing a number of birds with one stone and a very pretty stone at that." He said that the question is not one about public health. "There is no objective body of evidence on which this issue is based and so the discussion, as it shifts in Germany from one of religious freedoms to public health, becomes absurd because this is not based upon an objective concern about should it be done in a hospital or not and how should it be done or not. It's a fundamental question. Do parents who belong to a specific faith community have the right to do this to their child or must the child be protected from those parents? That's the core issue."