First of all, a special thanks to a good friend of Common Sense Conspiracy that alerted us to this rising controversy in Germany. Apparently, this has been boiling for a while. Earlier in July, a court in Germany banned the circumcision procedure citing that it causes bodily harm to babies. The concept is something eerily similar to the abortion debate. It basically comes down to the rights of the child to not be mutilated or have it’s body harmed (if that’s a little less belligerent way to put it). Much like abortion, it challenges the rights of grown people to determine what a child may or may not want done to it in a time when it has no voice in the matter. The court ruling caused an instant backlash, as both Jewish and Muslim peoples living in Germany complained that circumcision is a religious practice in their respective faiths and to outlaw it was an obvious infringement on their religious freedom.
The government of Germany said that it will look into the ban on circumcision as a “matter of urgency.” Jewish families are especially alarmed. Those that already have children that were circumcised are concerned that if they have another child, they will not be able to observe their religious practices on the new addition. German authorities have said that religious freedom is very important in their nation and they want to resolve the matter as fast as their judicial and governmental processes allow.
The ban actually makes the act of circumcision criminal by German law. This is a result of the court ruling in Cologne. It should be noted that the ruling by the lesser court is only applicable in that one region and not on the national level, but the Jewish community in Germany is being proactive in rallying against it under fears that it might expand to include all of Germany. In a nation that will forever live in the shadow of World War II and the atrocities against the Jewish people that is labelled in history books as The Holocaust, it is easy to see why the Jewish peoples are especially wary.
The whole controversy started not with a Jewish child, but a Muslim one. A doctor was performing a circumcision on a 4-year-old Muslim boy. The operation was botched and it led to further medical problems for the child that were a direct complication from the circumcision process. This triggered an investigation and eventually charges were filed against the doctor that performed the operation. He was acquitted of all charges criminally in the matter, but the fallout still led to the now controversial ruling.
The crux of the matter for scientists and doctors is that circumcision is not medically necessary. Meaning that it is not a surgery that is performed out of need, but out of religious obligation. The courts in Cologne ruled that religious practice is not a valid reason to justify surgery that is not necessary for the health of the child. This grew into an even bigger debate: do the parents of a child have the right to decide whether the child should be part of a religious practice that they are not old enough to decide for themselves? Advocates of the ban say that the circumcision could be a huge problem if the child goes on to select a different religion later in life.
For Germany, it’s a double whammy. Both the Muslims and Jews are infuriated at the same time. Both religions have expressed their discontent with this action, with some Muslims calling it a “slap in the face” to their religion and residence in the country. It has been labelled as “Islamophobia” in some cases. That, paired with the nation’s sordid history regarding Judaism make this a crucial moment for the German government. But there are so many issues at the root of this, that it is hard to know what the defining factors will be. Is this a case of parents performing religious surgeries on children without their consent? Or is it a case of a government infringing on the religious freedoms of its people? Let us know what you think.