After a Cologne court's ruling in June that circumcision was tantamount to criminal bodily harm sparked a debate across Europe, Jewish and Muslim leaders in Germany say one positive outcome has emerged from the controversy -- the fact that it has brought the two communities closer together:
Rabbi Marc Schneier, Foundation for Ethnic Understanding: "It's clear that the Jewish and Muslim communities are at one on this issue. We find the reaction on the part of these governments unconscionable, highly insensitive and unsympathetic. But I'm less concerned about these areas of mutual interest and mutual cooperation, I'm more concerned about the continued attacks that we find on Jews and Muslims here in Europe."
The Cologne's court's finding came after a Muslim boy suffered complications following a circumcision. It is not an outright ban but has resulted in some hospitals in Germany, Austria and Switzerland suspending the procedure. Jewish and Muslim communities fear other countries may follow suit. Last month, criminal charges were filed against Bavarian Rabbi David Goldberg after he performed a circumcision.
Gonca Mucuk, a German Muslim of Turkish origin, says she can't understand the Cologne court's ruling, and thinks it's a violation of freedom of religion. Following the verdict she decided to have her son circumcised whilst on holiday in Turkey.
The German federal government is currently drafting new legislation which will clarify the issue. Meanwhile the state of Berlin has said that circumcision is legal but only if it is carried out by a doctor and not by a mohel as is required by Jewish law.