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German Jewish hospital stops religious circumcisions

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(JTA) — A German Jewish hospital has stopped allowing religious circumcisions in light of a court decision defining them as causing grievous bodily harm to young boys.

Last week’s ruling by a Cologne district court did not outlaw circumcision, but still the Jewish Hospital in Berlin decided to stop allowing religious circumcisions, according to Ynet. Doctors may still perform circumcisions for medical reasons.

“We performed circumcisions on a regular basis until this ruling and we no longer have the legal freedom to do it," hospital spokesman Gerhard Nerlich told Ynet.

Germany’s foreign minister, meanwhile, sought to dispel “doubts arising internationally about religious tolerance in Germany."

"The free exercise of religion is protected in Germany. That includes religious traditions," Guido Westerwelle said in a statement, according to The Associated Press.

German Jewish and Muslim leaders have criticized the Cologne ruling, which said the "fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents." Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, called it “outrageous and insensitive" in a statement.

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