World Bulletin / News Desk
Shopkeeper Nevzat Cavan is rushing to meet orders for the white, fur-trimmed costumes worn by Muslim boys for their circumcision, relieved that Berlin's city government has allowed the operations to resume.
For three months, the elaborate suits, capes and oriental slippers languished unsold due to a shock court ruling that raised the possibility of criminal charges being brought against families who had their sons circumcised.
"There were days when we didn't even open the till, but now the phone never stops ringing," Turkish-born Cavan said.
The Cologne court ruling in June outraged Germany's Muslims and Jews, and triggered an anguished national debate, by stating that ritual circumcision of under-aged boys amounted to "bodily harm" and parents should wait for their son to make his own decision.
The ruling applied only to the Cologne area but Jews and Muslims across Germany feared it would create a legal precedent, and doctors fearing prosecution stopped performing operations.
Muslim and Jewish groups branded the court order an attack on their religious freedom and an embarrassed German government - particularly sensitive to charges of intolerance because of the Nazi past - vowed to bring in legislation swiftly to protect ritual circumcisions.
Germany is home to about 4 million Muslims, mostly of Turkish origin, and 120,000 Jews. Chancellor Angela Merkel said if it failed to take action it risked becoming a laughing stock.
Anticipating the new law, Berlin authorities announced last month that families circumcising their sons had no reason to fear prosecution and Cavan began to sell his costumes again.
"Those judges in Cologne had no idea about the ramifications of their ruling," said Cavan, whose own grandson's circumcision had to be postponed.
In his shop 'Kids Elegance' in the mainly ethnic Turkish district of Kreuzberg, Cavan sells suits from 85 euros and brightly coloured party dresses and festive clothing for siblings, underlining how important circumcision is to Muslim families and the style with which it is celebrated.
The Justice Ministry has now issued the outlines of the new legislation that will protect a family's right to circumcise their child, provided they have been fully informed about the procedure and use the "most effective pain relief possible".
Completion and approval of the new law, which gives any family the right to have their child circumcised, regardless of religion, may be just weeks away. Some lawmakers are pressing for a vote of conscience freed from party discipline.
Muslim and Jewish groups have cautiously welcomed the outline proposal, but the months of uncertainty and debate that followed the Cologne ruling - which triggered rare joint demonstrations - have shaken the communities.
"This whole row has been very damaging to the integration process," said Cologne doctor Omar Kezze.
Kezze, originally from Aleppo in Syria, is the doctor whose trial sparked the Cologne court ruling. A boy he circumcised was taken to hospital after his wounds continued to bleed and the hospital informed the police and local prosecutors. The court cleared Kezze of all charges but created a legal minefield when it classified circumcision as "bodily harm".
"We have a financial crisis, we have extremists on the left and the right, many, many attacks," Kezze said, speaking in his busy surgery where pictures of his native city adorn the wall.
"There are many things for our prosecutors to fight; they really shouldn't be questioning a tradition dating back to Abraham."
"Proposal prioritizes Jewish model"
He welcomed Germany's new proposal but questioned one aspect, which states that only infants below the age of six months can be circumcised by an individual other than a doctor.
This accommodates the Jewish mohel, an individual specially trained in circumcising, but could prevent Muslims from using similar specialists who are not doctors. In Judaism, boys can be circumcised from eight days old; for Muslims the age of the child varies according to family, country and branch of Islam.
"This difference must be revised in the interest of fair treatment," Nurhan Soykan, general secretary of the German Central Council of Muslims, said in a statement.
Ender Cetin, community chairman for Berlin's Sehitlik Mosque, said the debates had been saddening.
"We are yet again thrown into the spotlight and forced to defend ourselves ... This only exacerbates prejudice against us."
'Hello, I am a Muslim' event aims to dispel myths, propaganda against Islam
Event aims to promote empathy launched in London’s central King’s Cross Station
Bzeek, who has been helping terminally-ill children for decades, says his actions change the negative perception of Muslims
Over 100 Muslim leaders felt a “measure of hope” after last evening’s four-hour meeting with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on issues directly affecting them, including the labelling them as terrorists.
As-Salam Mosque -- Chile's first -- renovated at direction of Turkish president during visit to country in 2016
Hadji Mohammad Dollie was a son of Scottish father and a Malay mother born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1846. He opened the first “Hanafi” Mosque in Cape Town along with a Dutch convert to Islam in the 1880’s.
Finsbury Park Mosque, which suffered terror attack last year, continues feeding homeless in London
I went to the local shop to buy some naans. After placing my order, I was just waiting on the side when I noticed that the guy in the shop was just staring at the door and had no smile on his face. It seemed like he was annoyed that no one was coming to buy anything. I noticed he kept looking at the clock then at the door, becoming more miserable each time.
Palestinian mosque officials accuse Israel of waging aggressive campaign against Islam's third holiest site
Suliman Abdul-Mutakallim was shot in the head as he was going home and was robbed of just $60.
BISHWA Ijtema is the second largest congregation of the Muslim community after the Hajj in Mecca. The annual gathering draws in Muslims from 150 countries.
Here are 12 fascinating photos of Jerusalem in the 1930s when Muslims, Christian and Jews lived peacefully side-by-side.
Hundreds of her supporters gathered around her to celebrate in Makhachkala, Dagestan's capital, on Saturday, two days after she confirmed her bid in a Facebook post.
Aarhus University's research shows number of mosques in Scandinavian country jumps from 115 in 2006 to 170 in 2017
'We are ready to furnish and maintain our own facility if we are given space,' social activist says