Home / News / German circumcision ruling draws applause from Raelians, condemnation from Jewish and Muslim faith groups
German circumcision ruling draws applause from Raelians, condemnation from Jewish and Muslim faith groups

German circumcision ruling draws applause from Raelians, condemnation from Jewish and Muslim faith groups

A German court verdict on June 26 has outraged some in the religious community, but drew applause from the Raelians.

The decision aims only to delay the act of religious circumcision, not ban it, and is not specifically directed against any faith.  The judge found that circumcision amounted to bodily harm and only males old enough to consent to it freely should undergo it.

Jewish and Muslim leaders called the ruling insensitive and discriminatory, saying it was an attack on centuries of religious tradition, the UK's Guardian reported.

Rabbi Michael Leo Samuel wrote in the San Diego Jewish World that "Germany’s circumcision decision smacks of Nazism," writing:

For the German government, they need to ask themselves an important question: At what cost? Are they prepared to undo nearly sixty-five years of mending fences and good will? The German courts are entitled to past whatever legislation they want—so long as it does not affect the Jewish community. However, if this court’s decision is upheld by the higher courts, Germany will have taken one gigantic step backwards toward the realization of Hitler’s macabre dream—a Judenrein Germany (a Jew-free Germany).

The European Jewish Parliament has added its voice to outrage over the German district court judgment which ruled 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."

A Jewish News video explains that the case was brought against a doctor in Cologne who had circumcised a four-year-old Muslim boy in accordance with his parents' wishes. Several days after the operation, his parents took him to hospital as he was bleeding heavily and prosecutors subsequently charged the doctor with grievous bodily harm.

The European Jewish Parliament, which was established this year represents Jewish communities across more than 40 countries, issued a statement condemning unacceptable interference in the rights of religious communities and saying that it considers the argument that circumcision goes 'against the interests of a child to decide for himself later on to what religion he wishes to belong' for the highly surprising.

The parliament stressed that the "Judeo-Christian foundations" of Germany are enshrined in the country's Basic Law and that circumcision of male newborns, practiced in all Jewish communities for millennia, "is a rite that goes to the very core of Judaism."

The European Jewish parliament said it expected Germany's Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe to nullify the court decision "which otherwise would set a precedent and permanently deprive parents of their basic rights regarding freedom of religion". Muslim and Christian groups have similarly condemned the court ruling.


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The Raelian Movement, however, had a very different opinion on the ruling, issuing a press release on July 2:

Rael, spiritual leader of the Raelian Movement, today commended a German court's recent ruling that the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons amounts to bodily harm.

"Circumcision for men, like clitoral excision in females, constitutes sexual mutilation and should be forbidden," Rael said. It is a position he has taken for years. He also favors a Norwegian political party that is currently seeking a ban on circumcision in Norway.

The Raelians"Thousands of Germans have declared that a ruling of this kind was long overdue, and Raelians are happy to hear that," said Brigitte Boisselier, Ph.D., spokesperson for the Raelian Movement. "We Raelians are the first to fight for religious freedom, but above all else, we fight for respecting human rights. Any genital mutilation of a human being without his or her consent clearly violates the Declaration of Human Rights and should be considered a criminal act, despite the attempts to justify it as a religious tradition."

Boisselier said Jewish leaders have called the ruling anti-Semitic, while Muslims leaders have pronounced it Islamophobic.

"But for the court, this ruling upholds a child's right to physical integrity," she said.

This isn't the first time Raelians have taken a strong stance against genital alterations made in the name of religious or cultural traditions.

In 2006, Rael launched Clitoraid (www.clitoraid.org), an organization that helps women who have been genitally mutilated regain their physical integrity and sense of dignity as well as their ability to experience sexual pleasure.

"Thanks to a procedure developed by Dr. Pierre Foldes, a French surgeon, it's now possible to repair what's left of the mutilated clitoris," Boisselier explained. "We're setting up a hospital in Africa and several clinics in North America where the millions of women who have been mutilated can find relief by having that surgery performed."

But what's also interesting, she said, is that Clitoraid has been receiving hundreds of e-mails from men who have been circumcised.

"They're seeking a way to have that mutilation undone," Boisselier explained. She added that, according to the World Health Organization, 30 percent of males worldwide are circumcised.

"This means that billions of human beings on Earth have been genitally mutilated without their consent," Boisselier declared. "We note that all the women who seek help from Clitoraid show clear signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And I'm convinced that the billions of men who have been exposed to the traumatic mutilation of circumcision at an early age have developed also some degree of PTSD. It's urgent to have more than just one court saying 'Stop!' to this barbaric practice. All courts worldwide must place the right of a child above the right of a religion."

She said Rael has repeatedly asked that all religious scriptures, teachings and practices be reviewed by an independent international committee, which would see to it that all religious group practices not in agreement with the Declaration of Human Rights be banned worldwide.

"All Raelian books and practices are open for review at any time by such a committee," Boisselier said.

About D. Beeksma

One of the growing crowd of American "nones" herself, Deborah is a prolific writer who finds religion, spirituality and the impact of belief (and non-belief) on culture inspiring, fascinating and at times, disturbing. She hosts the God Discussion show and handles the site's technical work. Her education and background is in business, ecommerce and law.
  • Ali-Baba

    My father is Muslim and he circumcised me. I am extremely angry that this happened to me. I had no choice in the matter. Why can reasonable, civilized people call mutilating my penis their "religious right"? How much other child abuse will we accept in the name of God? I am extremely offended when people say this was my father's "right".

    This reporting is cynical in choosing to associate ridiculous-looking Raelians with the anti-circumcision movement. The anti-circumcision movement is very broad which includes doctors who refuse to perform circumcision, lawyers, ethicists and hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who are opposed to cutting the genitals of ALL children (boys and girls).

    No child should have genital cutting forced upon them. Only the individual must decide if they want to permanently lose a part of their body, when they are old enough.

    • Deborah_B

      The reporting wasn't meant to be cynical.

    • cosmopolite

      I have followed the anti-circumcision movement for 30 years. The Raelian role in that movement is utterly minute. The bulk of the movement consists of American mothers of childbearing age, who are not antisemitic and who take no interest in Islam.

      Ali-Baba, I agree that the idea that one's parents have a right to decide how one's penis will look and function, is bizarre and perverted. It is a relic from a time when children were seen as little more than domesticated animals.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    "The German courts are entitled to past whatever legislation they want—so long as it does not affect the Jewish community."

    This comment seems to state that Germany can pass whatever laws they want and those of the Jewish faith don't have to follow those laws.

  • Lore

    I don't care what anyone says; if it isn't circumcised then I don't even want to see it! Call me whatever you want but hygiene alone justifys the act. I am NOT a religious or biblical person but over 2000 years of God/Abraham & the circumcision thing is good enough for me.
    Of course, I'm female, but I have heard a number of parents regret that they did not circumcise their boys and I have also heard my cousin talk about absolutely not circumcising her son. I have also had the honor of holding my nephew in my arms while he was circumcised. I have seen it first hand, up close and personal. I'm glad I had that opportunity. Do what you want but, I ALWAYS asked men if they are circumcised on a first date and if the answer was 'no' then it was the last date.

    • Ali-Baba

      Women have no business talking about cutting the penises of men.
      Butt out!

      • Roger Dawson

        I don't think that's in any way true considering some of the most powerful speakers of the anti-circumcision movement are in fact women(and many of them Jewish, to boot). However, I do believe that we can agree that Lore's comments are not only insensitive but sickening and sexist as well. Imagine if the tables were turned and it was an African man talking about how he refuses to date women with a fully intact clitoris and clitoral hood and he was honored to have witnessed his own daughter's circumcision- that would be seen for the atrocity it is while women like Lore are not only allowed to condone irreversible genital surgery on boys but also permitted by much of the world's law to force it on her own children. It's an absolutely disgusting double standard and I hope I live to see the day that this practice comes to an end in the Western world and people like Lore are shamed and rebuked for their words and actions.

        • Lore

          I know what I wrote, think, feel & believe on this topic looks and sounds like. I won't defend it because I don't have to. I won't be shamed by it because I'm not ashamed of my opinion. Rebuke me if you will, I do understand your point of view. however, it does not change or affect mine.
          This particular topic is always a hot one.

          • http://www.houseofbetazed.com Mriana

            I don't see it being any hotter than a woman choosing to have an abortion or not. The fact remains it's the man's body, just as it is a woman's body and circumcision should not be done, unless there is a legitimate medical reason and there are no other options. It's very rare that there is a legitimate medical reason to have it done. IMHO, I should have gotten a second opinion before I allowed the doctor to do it to my younger son.

      • Deborah_B

        Sort of like men having no business talking about the reproductive health choices of women? Just curious.

    • http://www.houseofbetazed.com Mriana

      I regret that my younger son had to be circumcised due to the fact it was growing shut and causing him health issues. He was 2 y.o. when it was done and was in so much pain and misery. My older son is not and does quite well health wise. In fact, he does better than his brother. He's never had a UTI, while his brother has had many, esp after the circumcision. Hygiene does not justify it. One can be just as clean, if not more clean and even healthier if not circumcised. In fact, there are many drs against circumcision unless medically necessary, which is rare.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000065193419 Brandon Kehrer

      Hay.. We have something in common. See, hygiene is the vary
      same reason why I like my women circumcised too. All of them folds of
      skin, hiding all shorts of stuff. Producing that fishy smell. Hell
      no… Off with that clit I say!

      I know, I know… The parents could have show the girl
      how to bath down there instead of amputating part of her genitalia.
      But who cares right? They won't even remember it, they are babys. And
      it's for their own good.

      I am not just talking about how it is
      cleaner, and how it looks better, but how it also reduced UTI's, HIV
      infections, and cancer. After all, the parts of the women genitalia
      that had been amputated for my preference, can not get cancer anymore
      because they are gone.

    • cosmopolite

      I see that anti-foreskin bigotry is alive and well.

      If it became know that I refused to date women with protruding labia minora, and if a woman with such labia wanted to be involved with me, she had to spend some time with a cosmetic surgeon, my reputation in my community would be toast. I would be deemed a pervert and a crass disrespecter of women, case closed. But millions of American women turn up their noses at the male foreskin, and many think nothing of this. The foreskin and its removal are seen as mere fashion items. This is an instance of the subtle misandry pervading American culture.

      My mother refused to circumcise me, and won the argument by threatening to divorce my father. It took me decades to understand that my mother had done me a great favour. My wife of 25 years concurs.

  • Pingback: Criminal complaint filed against German rabbi over circumcision sparks outrage among Jews and Muslims, who complain of religious intolerance | God Discussion

  • cosmopolite

    "The European Jewish Parliament, which was established this year…"
    A very new sandbox lacking the wisdom than comes only with experience.

    "…issued a statement condemning unacceptable interference in the rights of
    religious communities…"
    Communities, religious and otherwise, do not have rights; only people do.

    "…considers the argument that circumcision goes 'against the interests of a child to decide for himself later on to what religion he wishes to belong' highly
    surprising."
    The argument goes back a number of years in the USA.

    "The parliament stressed that the "Judeo-Christian foundations" of
    Germany are enshrined in the country's Basic Law…"
    Those foundations are ethical, not ritual.

    "…circumcision of male newborns, practiced in all Jewish communities for millennia, is a rite that goes to the very core of Judaism."

    We are fairly confident that it has been practiced during and after the Babylonian Captivity. We do not know how much older it is than that.

    The very core of Judaism is much more than how the Jewish penis looks. It also includes monotheism, the Chosen People, the Covenant, the entire Torah, tikkun olam, and the teaching of the prophets.

    The European Jewish parliament said it expected Germany's
    Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe to nullify the court decision "which
    otherwise would set a precedent and permanently deprive parents of their
    basic rights regarding freedom of religion".

    Have you ever thought that bris deprives Jewish men and women of sex as nature intended it to be?

    "Muslim and Christian groups have similarly condemned the court ruling."
    The Koran is silent about circumcision. The New Testament is firmly opposed to the practice.

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