Forthcoming March 27th I will be one of the speakers at a joint event between the European Council of Religious Leaders – Religions for Peace and the Council of Europe’s Brussel’s office. It will be an opportunity to explore the mounting pressures attempting to limit freedom of religion and tolerance for others in Europe. The title of my lecture is provocatively entitled: “Religious practices and expressions: contradicting human rights?”
This will be another step in our interfaith effort to mitigate and counter the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s resolution Resolution 1952 (2013), which encouraged legally constraining religious circumcision. Some previous steps undertaken in this matter were described in a previous blog post.On January 20th 2014, I took part in a Jewish-Muslim interfaith mission by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, meeting with Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, where he reitterated his strong support for religious freedom and cultural tolerance. This came a week ahead of a renewed discussion concerning ritual male infant circumcision at the Council of Europe.
Unfortunately, a the discussion regarding ritual circumcision a mere week after our interfaith meeting with Secretary General Jagland, we could see first hand how some activists won’t stop at anything and will try to claim a moral high ground upon which they can build their castles of intolerance, cloaking their intransigence in arguments supposedly about the rights of the child, while totally ignoring the same children’s rights to be part of a community, for instance a religious community, and to receive their parents’ culture and deeply held values. There remains much work to be done.
Most upsetting was that all Germans who were present and spoke at the January 28th discussion all opposed ritual circumcision. It seems like after losing in the German Bundestag when the latter body passed a law protecting ritual circumcision, they ran to the Council of Europe to sell their intolerant wares.
Some press reports of our Jan. 20th meeting:
- YNET: Jews, Muslims unite to combat circumcision ban
- 20 Minutes France: Circoncision — Des Associations demandent au Conseil de l’Europe de revoir sa resolution
- Yabiladi: Circoncision — Musulmans veulent faire changer d’avis au Conseil de l’Europe
- Vos Iz Neias: Delegation of Muslim and Jewish Leaders Receive Assurance from Council of Europe Secretary General of Firm Opposition to Bris Milah Ban/
- The Yeshiva World: Interfaith Delegation Addresses Bris Ban in Europe
This came on the heels of the very strong words On November 12th 2013, Secretary General Jagland, condemned the equation of male infant circumcision with female excision, and condemned the intolerant call to ban ritual male infant circumcision at the gala dinner of the Conference of European Rabbis, in Berlin.