Chancellor Angela Merkel has become the first German leader to address the Jewish community’s annual council meeting, reassuring members that the government would protect their religious rights, in particular the right to practice rituals integral to their faith.
Merkel’s speech comes after what the Jewish Council president called a “summer of discontent” following a controversial court ruling in the western city of Cologne that equated ritual circumcision – practiced in both Judaism and Islam – to grievous bodily harm.
The controversial bill was rescinded after sparking widespread condemnation in both Jewish and Muslim circles. It has been replaced by a new law which protects the ancient practice providing it be carried out professionally and with the minimum amount of pain to the child.
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