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January 25, 2008

Oregon court lets child decide on own circumcision

Oregon court lets child decide on own circumcision

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Friday, January 25, 2008

In an ongoing custody battle, the Oregon Supreme Court decided a 12-year-old boy should have a say in whether he should or should not be circumcised as part of a conversion to Judaism. The child of Lia and James Boldt was raised in the Russian Orthodox Church, but his father James, who has primary custody, converted to Judaism in 2004. The couple divorced in 1999.

After conversion, James began discussing the religion with his son and informed the ex-wife of his intentions for the son to convert as well. The mother objected to the conversion and circumcision as invasive and possibly dangerous. The father argued that his First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion allowed him to choose what religion his child was raised in.

The Oregon Supreme Court in a decision authored by Chief Justice Paul De Muniz reversed the decision of the Oregon Court of Appeals and returned the case to the trial level court. The trial court in Jackson County, Oregon, was to determine if the 12-year-old boy agrees with being circumcised or if he disagrees with the procedure, and take that into account with their ruling. The state supreme court had received four amicus briefs from national Jewish groups supporting the father’s position.



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December 9, 2006

Egyptian Muslim theologians change course on female circumcision

Egyptian Muslim theologians change course on female circumcision

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Saturday, December 9, 2006

Egyptian Muslim theologians seek to change the Islamic position on female circumcision at a conference at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University. The theologians decided that female circumcision is forbidden by Sura 95, Verse 4 of the Koran: “We have created man in the most perfect image.”

It represents a major shift in the position of the Muslim religious community because many of the attending theologians are extremely powerful and respected, including Mahmoud Hamdi Saksuk, the Egyptian minister for religious charities, and Mohammed Sayyid Tantawi, the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar University.

A minority of liberal Muslim scolars had denounced the practice as early as 1998; however, hardliners continuned to endorse the practice.

In 1994, the Egyptian Mufti Sheikh Jad Al-Hâqq ‘Ali Jad Al-Hâqq issued a fatwa stating “Circumcision is mandatory for men and for women. If the people of any village decide to abandon it, the [village] imam must fight against them as if they had abandoned the call to prayer.”

Al-Azhar University itself issued fatwas endorsing female genital mutilation in 1949, 1951 and 1981, which were only reversed by Dean Ahmend Talib in 2005.

The conference was organized and funded by the Target group of German adventurer Rüdiger Nehberg, who had travelled through Africa and collected video material on the practice. The Egyptian religious scholar and journalist Yusuf al-Qaradawi criticized the foreign influence and stated that the conference was “biased and presumptuous”; however, he ultimately accepted its conclusions.

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