A doctor in Cologne botched the circumcision of a 4-year old Muslim boy. When the boy was treated at a local hospital the district court got involved and issued a ruling that has ignited an international firestorm:
The regional court upheld the original charge of grievous bodily harm but also ruled that the doctor was innocent as there was too much confusion on the legal situation around circumcision.
The court came down firmly against parents' right to have the ritual performed on young children.
"The body of the child is irreparably and permanently changed by a circumcision," the court said. "This change contravenes the interests of the child to decide later on his religious beliefs."
The official reaction of the both the mainstream German and international press has been to condemn the German court for infringing religious freedom. The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) - the official voice of the American Taliban - speculates that the ruling was rooted in German anti-Semitism.
While the mainstream press expresses "outrage" the reaction among ordinary readers is decidedly mixed. I've been reading the reader comments in the Frankfurter Rundschau and about half the readers find the verdict stupid, but there are many comments such as this:
Das Recht auf körperliche Unversehrtheit muß für jeden Menschen gelten,
für wehrlose Kinder insbesondere.
(The right to preservation of physical integrity must apply to all people, but especailly to innocent children).
Circumcision of boys - while not as serious as female circumcision - is a barbaric practice, rooted in religious superstition. I commend the court for not giving into religious pressures and standing for the well-being of the child.