French politicians, clergymen support petition defending circumcision

(JTA) — More than 5,500 people, including prominent French politicians, scholars and clergymen, have signed a petition against attempts to ban the ritual circumcision of boys in Europe.

Titled “no to a ban on circumcision,” the petition was published on Oct. 16 by CRIF, the umbrella organization representing France’s Jewish communities, following the Oct. 1 passage of a Council of Europe resolution that calls male ritual circumcision a “violation of the physical integrity of children.”

Among the petition signers are Anne Hidalgo, a candidate in next year’s Paris mayoral elections; the director Claude Lanzmann; and former government ministers Claude Goasguen and Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet.

By Thursday, the petition had more than 5,500 signatures.

The non-binding resolution by the Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly “targets European Jewish communities that are already exposed to the unprecedented resurgence of anti-Semitism,” the petition reads. “It is inconceivable to those who survived the Holocaust” and “dangerous because it stigmatizes Jews.”

Other co-signatories include Patrick Dubois, a French Catholic priest and Holocaust scholar, and Alain Massini, a well-known Protestant pastor.

The text of the petition also characterizes the resolution as “insulting” because it “equates between circumcision and [female genital] mutilation.”

In the resolution, “female genital mutilation and the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons” are listed together as examples of “violations of the physical integrity of children, which supporters of the procedures tend to present as beneficial to the children themselves despite clear evidence to the contrary.”

Thorbjorn Jagland, secretary general of the Council of Europe, wrote in a letter earlier this month that the resolution does not equate the two practices.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said: “The fact that leading politicians, scholars and members of the clergy all supported this petition should not go unnoticed by the rest of Europe and I hope all European nations follow in France’s footsteps.”

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