CAIRO - In a move to appease Jewish and Muslim communities, Germany's parliament will debate a new draft bill on male circumcisions that would allow the ritual practice if it does not endanger the child's health and is performed according to medical practice standards.
"It is a clear political signal that Jews and Muslims continue to be welcome in Germany," Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany said in a statement cited by The Guardian.
"We are glad that Jewish laws, and with it Jewish life, will not be deemed illegal - legal certainty in this case means safeguarding the future of Judaism in Germany."
A hot debate has raged in Germany after a Cologne court ruled that the religious practice amounted to physical abuse and thus a crime.
The verdict followed the circumcision of a four-year-old Muslim boy by a German doctor on his parents' wishes.
The court argued that 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.
The controversial verdict sparked outrage among Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders, who denounced the ruling as a serious intrusion on religious freedom.
In a trial to appease the country's Muslim and Jewish minorities, Germany's Bundestag will debate a new draft bill on male circumcisions next week.
If approved, the cabinet would allow the practice to be carried out on boys up to six months old by a doctor or someone as "skilled as a doctor".
Older children have the right to deny the procedure.
Although the federal ministry of justice was not able to confirm when the bill would be adopted, a spokesman said it was likely to be on Wednesday, with the first reading due to take place in parliament in November.
Praising the move, Jewish religious leaders said the law was a trial by Germany to avoid unnecessary fight with its religious minorities.
Why should people say how I should live my religion? said Walter Rothschild, chief rabbi of the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, adding that he did not blame the government.
Politicians didn't want this fight, he added.
It was the last thing they wanted.
Feeling unwelcome in their own country, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders took the issue to the European Parliament to complain about what they called an affront to their basic religious and human rights.
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.
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.
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.