BERLIN - Germany's Muslims and Jews have joined hands to protest a court ruling banning circumcision, calling for a legal protection of the religious ritual.
"We consider this to be an affront (to) our basic religious and human rights," Jewish and Muslim groups said in a joint statement cited by Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Circumcision is an ancient ritual that is fundamental to our individual faiths and we protest in the strongest possible terms this court ruling.
Circumcision: Jewish or Islamic Practice?German Muslims Urge Circumcision Law
We will vigorously defend our right to maintain our mutual tradition, added the statement signed by several groups, including the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, the European Jewish Parliament, the European Jewish Association, Germany's Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs and the Islamic Center in Brussels.
A regional court in Cologne in Western Germany ruled last month that circumcision for religious reasons amounted to harm and thus a crime.
The ruling followed the circumcision of a four-year-old Muslim boy by a German doctor on his parents' wishes.
The Cologne court ruling said the four-year-old boy was not old enough to consent to have part of his body removed permanently and his parents should have let him decide when he got older.
It, however, gave no minimum age for this.
Jews circumcise male infants eight days after birth to recall their covenant with God.
The time for Muslim circumcision varies according to family, region and country.
The controversial verdict sparked outrage among Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders, who denounced the ruling as a serious intrusion on religious freedom.
Muslim and Jewish leaders met with European lawmakers to demand a legal protection of the religious circumcision.
We remain committed to resolving this matter of deep concern expeditiously in order to protect the rights of faith groups and restore harmony amongst these groups within Germany and throughout the European Union, the statement said.
Following the court ruling, Germany's Medical Association told doctors not to perform circumcisions.
A one-off accident shouldn't call a long-time tradition into doubt, said Imam Mustafa Katstit of the Islamic Center in Brussels.
Prof. Ali Dere, President of the umbrella organization of Muslims in Germany, was also critical of the ruling.
As Muslims in Germany, we are also confronted with discrimination, attacks on mosques, he said.
We hope the aim of the ruling is not repression or discrimination against Muslims or other communities. We seek further enlightenment from politicians and other individuals to solve this situation.
Germany is home to about 4 million Muslims and 120,000 Jews.
Thousands of young boys are circumcised every year in Germany, especially in the country's large Muslim and Jewish communities.
The World Health Organization has estimated that nearly one in three males under 15 is circumcised.
Circumcision is a confirmed Sunnah in Islam as an act pertaining to fitrah (pure human nature).
The practice is also mandatory for Jewish males according to biblical texts.Others use the practice for hygiene purposes, generally among infant boys.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net