Merkel vows to allow religious circumcision in Germany, aide says

Jews in Germany will be able to continue to perform circumcisions, an aide to German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a letter on Sunday, despite a court ruling deeming the practice illegal.

In June, a district court in Cologne deemed ritual circumcisions illegal, saying they constituted physical harm against newborn babies and is defined as "irreversible damage against the body."

The court further stated that freedom of religion and the rights of the parents of the circumcised cannot justify the practice itself.

Reacting to the decision at the time, Menachem Margolin, Director of the Rabbinical Center of Europe said the ruling a "brutal attack on freedom of religion," adding that a "public relations campaign in cooperation with the Muslim community will do away with misunderstandings and will prevent both conscious and unconscious harm to freedom of religion in Europe."

In a letter addressed to Margolin on Sunday, Dr. Rufolf Teuwsen, the head of the unit Liaison with Churches and Religious Communities at the Chancellor's Office said Merkel vowed to allow Jews to continue performing circumcisions, with writing that the "German government sees a special obligation to nurture the Jewish culture and religion."

"The German chancellor is grateful for the fact that the Jews have once again found a homeland in Germany. Thus, the German government sees a special importance in this issue, and is working intensely to reach a proper and swift solution to the issue of religiously-motivated circumcisions," Teuwsen added.

Merkel's aide went to say that "religious freedom is an essential component of our democratic society and there mustn't be a doubt regarding this issue."


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