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September 5, 2012 10:32 am

Berlin Bans Mohels From Performing Ritual Circumcisions

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Hospital in Berlin-Köpenick. Photo: wiki commons.

Germany’s capital city of Berlin has announced new rules on circumcision procedures, banning Jewish mohels from performing the ritual and requiring that both parents of a child who is scheduled to be circumcised, provide written confirmation that they have been made aware of the health risks involved.

“We explicitly welcome Muslim and Jewish life in Berlin,” said Thomas Heilmann, Berlin’s top justice official. “That is only possible if freedom to practice religion is possible.”

When the parents of a child who is set to be circumcised provide a written expression of their consent, they must also provide proof of “religious motivation and religious necessity of the circumcision”.

The new rules set forth by Berlin require circumcision procedures to be performed by doctors, in a “medically professional standard”.  According to Heilmann, circumcisions do not need to take place in hospitals and Jewish mohels are not currently trained to perform the procedures under Berlin’s new law.

Heilmann says the new law comes out of requests from German doctors for clarity on the issue of circumcision, after a court in Cologne banned ritual circumcision procedures in June.

Germany’s parliament is expected to draft new legislation on the issue, and Berlin’s new law will stand until that time.

Similar attempts to ban ritual circumcisions in Norway, Switzerland, and Austria have prompted a response from Muslim and Jewish groups in Europe, stating their opposition to what they call “attacks against our religious practices”.

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