Jews and Muslims on circumcision

In Germany´s hot debate on circumcision Dieter Graumann and Aiman A. Mazyek tell their view. The Jew and the Muslim agree, that Germany must respect the circumcision of boys, which is an elementary command of their religion.

Dieter Graumann: Old Racism

The degree of ignorance in this country over religiously motivated circumcision among Jews and Muslims is remarkable, the substantive discussion is thus fundamentally legitimate. What I cannot approve of is that in this debate about circumcision far too loud overtones of old racism are coming to the fore; the controversy over circumcision now serves many as a vehicle to let anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim sentiment run wild.

We protest sharply that we  are being criminalized and isolated, even to the point of being accused of harming children.

The primacy of politics

The discussion is being monitored closely by Jews around the world. However, in the Jewish community in Germany, we have no theocracy but the primacy of politics. And here, the Central Council of Jews takes care of politics, which I think is good enough. I must make this absolutely clear: On the issue of Brit Milah we have the same view. We want to maintain and keep our Judaism. We will certainly not allow ourselves to have our positive future be taken from us. Of that I have no doubt.

Circumcision of boys is THE command in Judaism, universally obeyed even in times of Judaism’s greatest catastrophes, and still followed worldwide. We will certainly not allow ourselves to be dissuaded by a court decision from following this elementary and constitutive command of our religion.


A promise is a promise

The decision of the Cologne Regional Court is not binding and will certainly not be decisive for our future. We re­cognize and appreciate, therefore, that on July 19th, the Bundestag adopted a resolution by a large majority; this gives a certain legal perspective to the question.

We trust that the promised law allowing Jews and Muslims to continue religious circumcisions on boys is submitted and approved soon. A promise is a promise.

Dieter Graumann is President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany



Aiman A. Mazyek: Religious Freedom, Parental Rights

There are those who claim that male circumcision is bodily harm, and in Germany, to cause bodily harm is unlawful. Even the World Health Organization recommends the Abrahamic tradition of male circumcision for reasons of health and hygiene. As part of quality assurance, circumcision is performed, even in Germany, by leading urologists and considered medically prophylactic.

The gift of religious freedom

The Cologne Regional Court put alleged child welfare above the great gift of religious freedom and parental rights without looking closer at what exactly constitutes the child’s best interests. From a medical point of view – hygiene, cancer screening and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases – the situation is irrevocably in favor of circumcision. The legal situation before the decision was quite sufficient to pro­secute doctors who do not practice their profession according to the discoveries of modern medicine.

Human health is a priority in Islam, as in Judaism, the pre­servation of human integrity for Jews and Muslims is a divine command. It enables the individual in his religious and social cohesion and a corresponding, solemn and reverential involvement in his social world.

The opponents of circumcision

The opponents of circumcision, including some German lawyers and judges, are often politically motivated; they are attempting, with much polemic and little knowledge, to criminalize Jews and now Muslims. An increasingly aggressive, sometimes missionary irreligious extremism is making peaceful coexistence in our country difficult.

The protection of religious integrity is a very valuable treasure. It is however, threatened when extremist groups claim the authority to interpret the law by reading it through certain cultural or religious eyeglasses. We Muslims also have to struggle with such ideas in our own ranks. To write this may not please everybody, but it remains a necessity.

Aiman A. Mazyek is Chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany

Photo Credit: dpa,islam.de,JVG

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