AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
BERLIN: Some 40 European Orthodox rabbis met in Berlin on Tuesday to protest a ban on circumcision, with the group's president calling it "one of the gravest attacks on Jewish life" since the Holocaust.
Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, slammed the ruling as "perhaps one of the gravest attacks on Jewish life in the post-Holocaust world."
"The court utterly failed to consider how fundamental Brit Milah is to the Jewish faith and identity," added Goldschmidt, using the Hebrew term for circumcision.
The June 26 ruling by the regional court in Cologne that circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounted to grievous bodily harm has caused uproar in both the Jewish and Muslim communities in Germany.
The court in the western German city ruled that the "fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents."
"The religious freedom of the parents and their right to educate their child would not be unacceptably compromised if they were obliged to wait until the child could himself decide to be circumcised," the court judged.
The court specified that circumcision was not illegal if carried out for medical reasons.
The Council of the Coordination of Muslims in Germany described the verdict as a "serious attack on religious freedom," while the head of the Central Committee of Jews, Dieter Graumann, said it was "an unprecedented and dramatic intervention in the right of religious communities to self-determination."
Berlin's Jewish hospital has since said it would suspend circumcisions "until the legal position is clear."
Goldschmidt said Jewish leaders would join with other religious communities to "face down this unwarranted attack on freedom of religion."
"We remain confident in the German legal and political system and believe that this ruling cannot and will not stand," he said.