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Israel slams 'racist' EU rights resolution on circumcision

Picture taken on July 26, 2012 shows a Rabbi presenting his surgical instruments for a circumcision ceremony in Hof, southern Germany
Picture taken on July 26, 2012 shows a Rabbi presenting his surgical instruments for a circumcision ceremony in Hof, southern Germany

Israel slammed as "racist" and "anti-religious" Friday a resolution of the pan-European human rights body calling for regulation of religious circumcision practices.

The Council of Europe resolution urged its 47 member states to ensure the latest medical and sanitary conditions are met during ritual circumcisions, which are often performed on boys at an early age in Judaism and Islam.

It called for "dialogue between... medical doctors and religious representatives, so as to overcome some of the prevailing traditional methods, which do not take into consideration the best interest of the child and the latest state of medical art."

The Israeli foreign ministry slammed the resolution, which passed by 77 votes to 19 with 12 abstentions on Tuesday, saying it fostered "racist trends."

"After the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution against circumcision, Israel calls on the Council to rescind immediately the resolution," the ministry said.

"Claims that circumcision harms young boys’ health and body are false, and do not rest on any scientific evidence," it added.

"This resolution casts a moral stain on the Council of Europe, and fosters hate and racist trends in Europe."

Israel took particular objection to PACE's adoption of a single resolution dealing with both female genital mutilation and the circumcision of young boys on religious grounds.

"Circumcision of male children is an ancient religious tradition... Any comparison of this tradition to the reprehensible and barbaric practice of female genital mutilation is either appalling ignorance, at best, or defamation and anti-religious hatred, at worst," the ministry said.

Ritual circumcisions in Judaism, Israel's dominant religion, are usually carried out by a religious official specialised in the practice.

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