German chancellor Angela Merkel told her party that Germany risked becoming a “laughing stock” over a court ruling criminalizing religious circumcision, according to a report in the newspaper Bild.While apparently 10.9 percent of the German population is circumcised, the ban has caused an uproar both among the Jewish and Muslim communities.
In an item quoted by AFP as it was about to be published Tuesday, the mass-circulation daily reported that Merkel warned the board of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) that Germany must restore legal protection for circumcision.
“I do not want Germany to be the only country in the world in which Jews cannot practice their rites,” Merkel was quoted as saying. “Otherwise we would make ourselves a laughing stock among nations.”
While I appreciate Merkel's stand, the sentiment she expresses makes it clear that the issue is very far from over.
And that means there will be arguments, based on heated rhetoric decrying "genital mutilation", that will continue to insist that circumcision, brit milah, be banned, despite the fact that:
...injury to this bit of erogenous tissue would not be mutilation of the “genitals,” strictly speaking, since it plays no direct role in male reproduction.Hijacking the terminology used in reference to actual female genital mutilation in order to incite opposition to the safe and medically unobjectionable rite of circumcision is the tool of fanatics.
In short, there is no comparison between the benign impact of male circumcision and the damage wrought by what is quite properly called female genital mutilation.
As Jeff Jacoby notes disagreeing on circumcision does not require criminalizing it:
In short, circumcision is something about which reasonable people can and do disagree. But there is nothing reasonable about the fanatics trying to make it a crime.Let's hope Merkel's statement is a sign of cooler heads prevailing.
Technorati Tag: Jews and Judaism and Circumcision and Brit Milah.