Parliamentary Assembly Session January 2011
Thorbjorn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Jagland: Male circumcision does not violate human rights

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has responded to Israel President Shimon Peres’ concern over a Parliamentary Assembly resolution by declaring that male circumcision does not violate human rights.

Jagland’s message was expressed in a tweet earlier today from his press spokesman Daniel Holtgen (@Daniel_Holtgen) which declared “Female genital mutilation violates human rights. Male circumcision does not.”

Jagland offered his view after receiving yesterday a letter from Israel’s President Shimon Peres. President Peres wrote to complain about last week’s Parliamentary Assembly resolution on ‘protecting the physical integrity of children’ which, he said, threatened the Jewish tradition of circumcision.

The ritual, Peres confirmed, is a “fundamental element of our tradition and obligation as Jews.”

He added that “Jewish communities across Europe would be greatly afflicted to see their cultural and religious freedom impeded upon by the Council of Europe.”

Marlene Rupprecht, who as the assembly’s rapporteur, is behind the resolution, has rejected the criticism which it has attracted.

It “in no way compares the circumcision of boys to female genital mutilation,” she argues.

Rupprecht added: “We did mention different categories of violation of the physical integrity of children, which we, however, very clearly distinguished and did not mix up in any way.

“The text adopted by the parliamentarians in a vote does not intend to stigmatise any religious community or its practices. On the contrary, the assembly calls for public debate, including intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, aimed at reaching a wide consensus on the rights of children to protection against violations of their physical integrity.”

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