German minister moves to calm circumcision fears

Germany's foreign minister is offering assurance that Germany protects religious traditions after a court ruled that circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to bodily harm even if parents consent.

Last week, a state court in Cologne ruled that the child's right to physical integrity trumps freedom of religion and parents' rights. The ruling was strongly criticized by the head of Germany's Central Council of Jews. Muslim leaders also expressed concern.

In a statement Sunday, Germany's foreign minister said his country protects the free exercise of religion, including "religious traditions."

Circumcision of newborn Jews has been practiced for thousands of years. Muslims also circumcise young boys, while many other parents request it on health grounds.