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.
The media storm over the purported killings in Kramatorsk petered out, and Russian forces on the border have so far stayed put.
Media reports said he was facing the possibility of charges of negligence leading to death and also for violating a law that stipulates the conduct of shipping crew.
A Japanese foreign ministry spokesman said the visit had been postponed for scheduling reasons.
Some 17 other soldiers were injured in the attack, which the source blamed on the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) group.
A number of activists have launched online and social media campaigns to raise awareness about the cause.
Putin criticised the government in Kiev for what he said was a mishandling of the situation in eastern Ukraine that is "dragging the country into an abyss."
More than 300 observers from the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the African Union and the United Nations are monitoring the vote.
The Moroccan King's visit to the city comes on the eve of a U.N. Security Council session to vote on a resolution on the Western Sahara.
Government spokesperson Joseph Katema denied the allegation.
Farmers agree to new strikes over unfulfilled promises to the agricultural sector. Previous actions in August and September last year, paralyzed Colombia by strangling highway traffic and communications about Bogota and another 15 departments.
The number of voters intending to back the left-leaning president for a second four-year term has fallen off just one percentage point since the previous poll in February
Japanese and U.S. officials say the alliance is rock-solid and the atmospherics will be just fine at what will be the first state visit to Tokyo by a U.S. president since Bill Clinton in 1996.
Karim Wade has been in prison for a year, sealing a dramatic fall from power for the former president's son, who previously ran ministries in charge of infrastructure, international cooperation, energy and air transportation.
Kiev and the West believe Moscow is stirring up the unrest and a senior U.S. official made clear that Russian leaders had to de-escalate the crisis.
The president spoke about the crisis in Ukraine, which he blamed squarely on Moscow, on the eve of a meeting in Geneva in which Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union
Western ambassadors demanded an end to what they said was Russia's false propaganda on the escalating crisis in Ukraine