In an article for Reuters, Michael Shields writes that physicians “in Austria’s westernmost province have been cleared to resume circumcisions after the Justice Ministry reassured them that they can perform the religious practice without risking criminal charges.”
Shields says that apparently a regional court ruling in Germany caused confusion when it was reported that “the practice supported by Muslims and Jews amounted to physical abuse.” Doctors were then advised to suspend the ruling.
Patriarch Mar Innai Kharba of the Manichaean Church has been calling attention to the controversy in order to assist the public in becoming aware of the problem of religious freedom being limited by governments. Various other religious leaders throughout Austria also defended circumcision, saying that such condemnation of the practice was an attack on religious freedom.
Physicians will still need to decide individually whether or not to perform the surgeries.
In his article, Shields reports that “Austria is home to about half a million Muslims, most of whom are migrant workers from Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and about 9,000 Jews, down from about 200,000 before the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938.”