This decision has sparked anger among religious groups, both Muslim and Jewish and even an angry response from the Israeli Foreign Ministry which said ''This decision is casting a heavy moral shadow on the entire council and is contributing to flaming the fires of hatred and racism in Europe''.
The decision of the European Council is barging into the delicate discussion around circumcision like a blind elephant in a porcelain shop.
A decision to out law female circumcision could be easily supported, since it includes obviously adverse effects and is not even accepted by most of the Islamic religious establishment. But the current decision is ruling out all forms of circumcision, including male circumcision - which is universal in Jewdeism and near-universal in Islam, and apparently holds no adverse effects. With this step, the European Council is forbidding a fundamental cultural and religious practice which has existed for thousands of years. Is the European Council in the business of violating freedom of religion?
A part of the argumentation given by the European Council is that the child should be able to chose for himself - hence the decision that circumcision is forbidden UNTIL the age of 15 when the person can chose to go through with it. To refine this point into its principle issue - this implies that the parents are not entitled to chose for their own child before he enters an age where he can chose for himself. This is an interesting position and one worthy of debate. But the European Council seems to be interested in affirming this position only in the case of Circumcision (a cultural practice of 2 large minorities in Europe) and not at all in the many other instances where it presents itself: do parents have the right to enroll their child into a school of arts, or athletics - setting the child on a life course which he might have not chosen for himself? Do parents have the right to move to another country and take their child with them, altering in this way his options in life?
Is the European Council's decision not a violation of the religious freedoms of Jews and Muslims and their communities in Europe? Where do religious freedoms and individual freedoms clash? and how can such a conflict be resolves? Who should know better the best interests of the child - the parents or the state?
These questions deserve a much more open, deep and sensitive discussion.