ECI warns Council of Europe

- Recent resolution opposing ritual circumcision may fuel racial hatred in Europe

Helsinki, October 24th, 2013 – ECI denounces a recent resolution of the Council of Europe to call into question male circumcision on religious grounds, calling it a travesty of European values. In a letter to Council head, Thorbjorn Jagland, on Thursday, October 24th, ECI points out that the Council of Europe was set up in 1949 to promote tolerance and religious freedom and not to ignite hatred and limit religious freedom, which is the case in this recent resolution. By issuing the recommendation, the Council of Europe is in fact contradicting its own values and objectives, the letter said.
The Council of Europe resolution comes at a time when Jewish life is becoming increasingly difficult in European countries. A recent survey from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights reveals that a full 25 per cent of Jewish people said they avoid wearing clothing or symbols that would identify them as Jewish, for fear of being attacked. In some countries, such as Sweden, that number totals almost 50 per cent. Furthermore, in several European countries such as Greece, Hungary, Bulgaria and France, openly racist and anti-Semitic parties are growing in popularity. In France, one of the largest EU member states, the openly xenophobic National Front is currently the most popular party in the polls for the next EU elections in May 2014.
‘In this atmosphere of increasing intolerance and xenophobia, one would expect a different message from the Council of Europe’, ECI's director Tomas Sandell states in his letter. 

'Instead of combatting these forces of the tragic past of Europe the Council of Europe is helping to legitimize them by putting in to question the right for Jews and Muslims to live according to their religious traditions which prescribe the circumcision of male infants. The Council of Europe resolution, if ever implemented into national law, would severely limit the religious freedom of Jews and Muslims and may put an end to Jewish life in Europe.'
ECI notes that chairman Jagland has already distanced himself from the resolution which was adopted on October 1st by a vote of 78 in favour and 13 against, with 15 abstentions. According to Jagland, the Assembly is a consultative body that does not represent the position of the Council as a whole.
The Council of Europe was set up in 1949 to promote human rights, democratic development and cultural cooperation. The Council consists of 49 member states and is independent from the European Union. The Assembly of the Council of Europe consists of 642 elected members who meet four times a year in Strasbourg, France.