A court banned the circumcision of young boys in Cologne, Germany, ruling yesterday that the child's "fundamental right to bodily integrity" trumped their parents' right to religious freedom. The case centered around a 4-year-old Muslim boy who developed medical complications after he was circumcised, the New York Times reports. The judge decided that religious freedom "would not be unduly impaired" because men could decide to have the procedure later in life.
Religious leaders disagree. The Central Council of Jews in Germany decried it as "an unprecedented and dramatic intrusion" on religious communities. "In every country in the world is this religious right respected," its president said. The ruling is only binding for that specific court's jurisdiction, but it might discourage doctors across Germany from performing circumcisions. One German law professor hopes so. "Hopefully a discussion will begin," he says, "about how much religiously motivated violence against children a society is ready to tolerate."