Euro­crats row back on push to ban the brit

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY TOBY AX­EL­ROD

JEWISH AND Mus­lim groups have suc­ceeded in re­vers­ing a Coun­cil of Europe res­o­lu­tion that con­demned rit­ual cir­cum­ci­sion of boys.

Back­track­ing on a two-year-old res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing the prac­tice, the Par­lia­men­tary Assem­bly of the Coun­cil of Europe (Pace) passed a new state­ment last Thurs­day re­assert­ing its com­mit­ment to pro­tect­ing re­li­gious free­dom.

Although Pace res­o­lu­tions are not bind­ing on par­lia­ment, the an­nounce­ment was wel­comed by Jewish and Mus­lim groups alike.

In a state­ment, the Con­fer­ence of Euro­pean Rab­bis (CER) said it was “pleased with the coun­cil’s recog­ni­tion that all re­li­gions should be re­spon­si­ble for de­ter­min­ing how their re­spec­tive re­li­gion should be prac­tised in public”.

Meretz MK Esawi Frej, who rep­re­sented the Knes­set at Thurs­day’s Pace ses­sion, told the Jerusalem Post that it was ac­cept­able to de­bate the pros and cons of cir­cum­ci­sion, but that oppo- nents “should fight through ed­u­ca­tion and public re­la­tions and not try to force their opin­ions through leg­is­la­tion”.

CER Pres­i­dent, Rabbi Pin­chas Gold­schmidt, said that his group was co­op­er­at­ing with some Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties on is­sues of re­li­gious free­doms and was “build­ing new coali­tions with Mus­lim re­li­gious or­gan­i­sa­tions.”

Their work is far from over: “With the in­flux of more Mus­lims to Europe, we ex­pect fur­ther back­lashes in the curb­ing of re­li­gious free­doms in mem­ber states,” Rabbi Gold­schmidt said.

Re­cent years have seen rit­ual cir­cum­ci­sion of boys, and kosher or halal slaugh­ter un­der at­tack in Europe, es­pe­cially by right-wing pop­ulist po­lit­i­cal move­ments that are strongly anti-Mus­lim.

Two years ago, af­ter the pas­sage of the ini­tial, non-bind­ing res­o­lu­tion, Coun­cil of Europe Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Thor­b­jørn Jagland told the CER that the coun­cil would never ban Jewish rit­ual cir­cum­ci­sion of boys.

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