September 26, 2012
BERLIN (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) -- Both Muslim and Jewish groups welcomed Wednesday a draft bill that will confirm the legality of infant male circumcisions in Germany, ending three months of controversial debate.
Chancellor Angela Merkel promised two months ago to relegalize circumcision, after a regional court ruled it as unlawful bodily harm to the child -- triggering a global outcry from Muslim and Jewish groups.
Jewish groups were also upset when senior officials suggested that after the law change, only doctors would be allowed to circumcise.
But the text of the draft bill says non-doctors can conduct the procedure on baby boys up to six months old. A spokesman for the Justice Ministry in Berlin told dpa, "The requirement is they have to be able to do it just as well as a doctor."
Circumcision is rare among Germans who are not Muslim or Jewish and has been rejected by many doctors.
Nurhan Soykan, general secretary of the Central Council of Muslims, welcomed the draft, which will be the basis for a bill to be introduced in parliament, almost certainly next month.
But she questioned why the age of six months had been set as the limit for circumcisions by non-doctors.
Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews, welcomed the draft, saying it was "wise" but needed fine-tuning.
Jewish practice requires circumcision at eight days by a mohel, or trained circumciser. Muslim circumcision is usually much later.
The draft was circulated Tuesday to state governments and religious and medical societies with a request for comment.
The legality of circumcision had not been in doubt before the ruling, announced in June, by a court in the city of Cologne. Though that ruling is not binding, German doctors have since ceased offering the procedure, fearing prosecution.
The country's best-known mohel, Rabbi David Goldberg, continues to offer the ritual via his website. Anti-circumcision activists have demanded he be put on trial.
Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH