The foreign minister is offering assurances that Germany protects religious traditions after a court ruled that circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to bodily harm even if parents consent.
Last week, a state court in Cologne ruled that the child's right to physical integrity trumps freedom of religion and parents' rights. The ruling was strongly criticized by the head of Germany's Central Council of Jews, Dieter Graumann, who urged Parliament to clarify the legal situation to protect religious freedom. Muslim leaders also expressed concern.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Sunday that a legal debate "must not lead to doubts arising internationally about religious tolerance in Germany."
He said in a statement: "The free exercise of religion is protected in Germany. That includes religious traditions."
The Jewish Hospital in Berlin decided to suspend all circumcisions of children for religious reasons following the ruling delivered by a German court a hospital spokesman said on Friday.
"We are suspending circumcisions until the legal situation is clarified," said Gerhard Nerlich, a spokesman for the hospital, citing the chief of internal medicine Kristof Graf.
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