World Bulletin / News Desk
Germany's lower house of parliament passed a resolution on Thursday to protect the religious circumcision of infant boys after a district court ban on the practice outraged Muslims and Jews and sparked an emotional debate in the country.
The main political parties have criticised the ruling by a Cologne court and Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has promised a new law to make clear doctors or families will not be punished for carrying out the procedure.
The speed with which lawmakers agreed on the terms of the motion underscored sensitivity to charges of intolerance in a country haunted by its Nazi past.
The resolution, jointly filed by Merkel's conservatives, their liberal coalition ally (FDP) and the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), demanded that "the government present a draft law in the autumn ... that guarantees that the circumcision of boys, carried out with medical expertise and without unnecessary pain, is permitted".
The new law would overrule the Cologne court decision.
Lawmakers noted in the resolution that the court ruling had deeply unsettled Muslims and Jews in Germany, as they feared the practice would now be outlawed, while doctors were alarmed at the threat of prosecution if they performed operations.
"Jewish and Muslim religious life must continue to be possible in Germany. Circumcision has a central religious significance for Jews and Muslims," the resolution stated.
Merkel has said Germany risked becoming a "laughing stock" if Jews were not allowed to practise their rituals.
Around 4 million Muslims, many of whom are from Turkey which has also criticised the court ruling live in Germany that also about 120,000 Jews are registered as living.
Germany's Central Council of Jews described the Cologne ruling as an "unprecedented and dramatic intrusion" on religious freedom and the Central Council of Muslims in Germany called it a "blatant and inadmissible interference" in parents' rights.
An overwhelming majority of lawmakers voted in favour of the resolution, although the small opposition Left party opposed it, suggesting that infant boys could have a "symbolic circumcision" then undergo the actual operation when older.
Christian Democrat Guenter Krings, who supported the resolution, said: "We do not want to give any endorsement ... to the practice of circumcision with this resolution. It is important that there is a debate on the practice within religious communities and also within society, but this debate must not take place under the Damoclean sword of prosecution."
Although it is the world's most commonly practiced surgical procedure, he said, it could lead to complications and must be viewed as a significant procedure.
The Cologne court, ruling in the case of a Muslim boy who suffered bleeding after circumcision, said the practice inflicted bodily harm and should not be carried out on young boys, although it could be practised on older males with consent.
This is not acceptable under Jewish religious practice, which requires boys to be circumcised from eight days old, nor for many Muslims, for whom the age of circumcision varies according to family, country and tradition.
The bill was rushed through in the same sitting as a vote on aid to Spain for which lawmakers were recalled from their holidays.
Greece's emotive campaign for war damages has been waged for decades by governments and private citizens alike. But it has gained momentum in recent years as Greeks suffered under the German-backed austerity imposed by the European Union and the International Monetary fund in exchange for financial bailouts.
Buildings have been evacuated as a huge fire starts in central London Street
Israel started withholding around $130 million a month in tax and customs revenues in December after the Palestinians announced that they were joining the International Criminal Court, a move finalised on Wednesday.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday issued an executive order creating new sanctions authority to punish individuals and entities engaged in cyber attacks.
At least nine people have reportedly been killed in Nigeria's northwestern Kano State
At least nine people were killed on Tuesday when hurricane-force winds lashed northern Europe in one of the most severe storms in years, forcing flights to be cancelled and disrupting road, train and marine traffic.
Russia and Ukraine agreed last year on a "winter package" for supplies with a price discount of $100 per thousand cubic metres and advance payments, but that accord expired on Tuesday and has yet to be replaced.
Sarkozy arrived Wednesday at financial section of high court of Paris to be interrogated over charges of breach of trust, complicity and concealment.
Police quiz Crimean Tatar Mejlis deputy head Umerov for seven hours and search his house.
Ethiopia is making preparations to evacuate its nationals from Yemen
U.S. State Department official who asked not to be named said Washington was ready to work with whoever was democratically elected in Nigeria and offered a positive.
Eritrean Foreign Ministry has refused claims that alleged Iranian support to Houthis group was being channeled through the Horn of Africa nation.
With officials touting victory in a month-long battle, state television said Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi was visiting the city, which the Islamist militants captured last June as they seized most of Iraq's Sunni territories.
First independent Crimean Tatar network ATR stops broadcasting after failing to get permission from Russian authorities.
President Obama said he would ask the U.S. Congress for $1.3 billion per year in military aid for Egypt and said he would lift holds on aircraft, missiles and tanks for Cairo in place since October 2013, the White House said in a statement.
German airline confirms co-pilot of crashed Germanwings plane informed company of severe depression episode.