Criminal charges for bodily harm have been filed against a rabbi in Germany for carrying out circumcisions. Rabbi David Goldberg, who is a mohel in the 400-strong Jewish community of Hof in Bayern, has been charged according to a July ruling by a court in Cologne banning circumcision on religious grounds. The ban was introduced after a four year old Muslim boy was returned to hospital with bleeding following circumcision. The news of charges against the rabbi, brought by a doctor in Hessen, has caused outrage and shock among Jewish groups in Germany and internationally. The vice President of the World Jewish Congress has said there was an urgent need to create legal certainty over the matter.
The news came on the day that Israel's chief rabbi Yona Metzger travelled to Berlin to try to convince German lawmakers that they should overturn the ruling and reach a compromise on how circumcisions should be carried out. Orthodox Jewish practice sees circumcision performed at eight days old. The doctor who has pressed charges against Rabbi Goldberg is reported to be one of a number of signatories to an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel which states that religious freedom should not constitute a basis for violence against boys too young to consent. But some commentators have said that the ruling has proved disastrous for Germany's image, particularly in the light of the country's Nazi past.
Germany is home to around 120,000 Jews and 4 million Muslims. Both Jewish and Muslim groups have condemned last month's court ruling, which has since led to other similar bans in Austria and Switzerland. Recent anti-circumcision material in the Danish media also has Jewish groups concerned that the bans could spread to Denmark and other Scandinavian countries. Germany's Justice Ministry says it is close to publishing draft legislation to permit circumcision on religious grounds according to medically professional standards.