Will Europe Ban Circumcision?

The question sounds absurd, but anti-circumcision activists are winning legal and policy victories—and overturning the definition of freedom of religion in the process.


A baby and relatives after his circumcision. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun.
A baby and relatives after his circumcision. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun.
Observation
Aug. 29 2018
About the author

Seth Kaplan, who lectures at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), is the author of, among other books, Fixing Fragile States and Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict.


In June 2012, a court in Cologne, Germany ruled that the circumcision of boys should be considered a prosecutable physical assault. In a case involving a four-year-old Muslim boy, the judges declared that the permanent physical alteration of any part of the body infringes a child’s right to decide his beliefs for himself. The verdict against the doctor who had performed the procedure stated that neither the rights of parents nor the right to religious liberty could justify “serious and irreversible interference with physical integrity.”

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More about: Circumcision, History & Ideas, Liberalism, Politics & Current Affairs