28 June 2012

The Cologne Regional Court has done the right thing

A court in the German city of Cologne has done what every court in the world should do: rule against the circumcision of infant boys for religious reasons. The British Humanist Association has a short post on this unsurprisingly controversial decision, while the New Humanist website has a longer article doubling as an editorial.

Where I stand on this matter should be obvious. Chopping bits off a baby’s penis in the name of superstitious, antiquated tradition is not what modern, rational, civilised people do. What is especially galling is that religionists like Dieter Graumann (President of Germany’s Central Council of Jews) and Aiman Mazyek (of the Central Council of Muslims) have the temerity to call the Cologne court’s ruling “outrageous”. No, what is truly outrageous is that infants continue to be mutilated without their consent simply because their parents subscribe to barbaric Iron Age customs.

Richard Dawkins was right to state that “there is no such thing as a Catholic child, there is only a child of Catholic parents. There is no such thing as a Protestant child, only a child of Protestant parents. There is no such thing as a Muslim child, only a child of Muslim parents.” As Dawkins argued, we wouldn’t think of labeling a child as a Marxist or a libertarian. Yet millions of children around the world are branded with the religious convictions of their parents by default, despite neither having understood nor consented to those convictions.

This is far from over. The Cologne Regional Court has been brave and principled, but its historic ruling may yet be overturned by Germany’s highest court, the Constitutional Court. Already the religionists are pushing back, playing the persecution card while they fight for their right to violate the physical integrity of their young children. Appeals to tradition are flying thick and fast. But what else do you expect from regressive individuals who remain mired in the past?


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