Council of Europe executives advise inaction on male circumcision


(JTA) — European rabbis praised the Council of Europe’s leadership for advising against further attempts by members to target ritual circumcision.

The advice appeared in a letter issued by the governing body of the council — an intergovernmental organization with no executive powers — to its parliament.

The protection of children “is provided by existing international instruments,” according to the letter sent last month. It also disputed a past resolution by the parliament that equated mutilation of female genitals and non-medical circumcision of boys for religious purposes, calling them “by no means comparable.”

Rabbi Mendel Samama of the Conference of European Rabbis said the letter was a “sign of real progress on the issue of religious circumcision in Europe.”

The letter was in reaction to a controversial resolution passed by the council’s parliament last year that said the circumcision of boys was a “violation of the physical integrity of children.”

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, called the letter a “significant step” that he said is “particularly pleasing in light of a worrying trend across Europe where liberal extremes have taken precedence over the basic human right of religious practice.”


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