The Council of Europe has passed a non-binding resolution banning circumcision, a practice that is central to the identify of both Muslims and Jews. According to the Council, the traditional practice allegedly violates the “physical integrity of children.” The organization declared that circumcision should not be preformed on children, male or female, who are unable to consent. Even while the resolution is not legally binding, the Council of Europe hopes to start debates in European nations aimed at ending circumcision of children.
European Jewish groups and religious freedom advocates were troubled by the resolution. “Although the adoption of this report is non-binding and does not represent any direct threat to milah [Jewish ritual circumcision], we are troubled at the readiness of the Parliamentary Assembly to dismiss the points made during the debate about religious freedom,” the Milah UK organization told the Jewish Telegrahic Agency. “This is the first time in recent memory that aggressive political attacks on milah have found a legitimate vehicle at the European level,”
Ritual circumcision is opposed in Europe by a coalition of right-wing anti-immigration activists and left-wing secularists. It affects Muslims, who circumcise their sons at age 7 or older and Jews, who circumcise 8-day-old boys. Some Muslims practice a related custom that is sometimes called 'female circumcision' which involves the surgical removal of the clitoris. The practice is mostly practiced among Muslims of African origin and has been widely condemned.
In a related story about intolerance of religion, the Catholic bishops of Poland joined various Jewish groups to oppose legislation that would seek to ban ritual (kosher) slaughter. Support for the legislation has come from animal-rights activists, anti-Semites, nationalists, leftists and rightists.