Euro Muslims, Jews Discuss Concerns

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Muslim and Jewish leaders from across Europe are set to meet in Paris on Tuesday, September 4, to discuss restrictions on their religious rights, including the practice of religious circumcision, the Deutsche Welle reported.

“If there is an attack on a mosque or a synagogue, if a Muslim or a Jew is being attacked, then it is our duty to stand up and make our protest heard,” Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, will tell the meeting.

Themed “Second Gathering of Jewish and Muslim Leaders”, the two-day meeting brings together Muslim and Jewish religious leaders from 18 European countries.

Participants will discuss restrictions on their right to practice religion, including a recent ruling to ban circumcision in the German city of Cologne.

A ban on ritual slaughter in a number of European countries is also topping the meeting’s agenda.

“We, European citizens, Muslims and Jews, stand together and say to our opponents that you will not be able to change our culture, our traditions and our religion,” Kantor said.

“We are, of course, ready for compromise and dialogue with the governments and leadership of Europe.”

A Cologne court has ruled that circumcision amounted to physical abuse and thus a crime.

The controversial verdict sparked outrage among Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders, who denounced the ruling as a serious intrusion on religious freedom.

Ritual slaughter has been the subject of controversy in several European countries, where pro-animal activists say it causes unnecessary pain to the animal.

Germany is home to about 4 million Muslims and 120,000 Jews.


A recent attack on a Jewish rabbi in Germany is also figuring high in the meeting.

“The recent attacks against our religious practices in Europe are an assault on all people of faith and they are indeed an attack on freedom of expression, the very basis for a free, democratic and tolerant European society,” Kantor will say.

“Yesterday it was the Jews, today it is the Muslims and tomorrow it might be the Christians.”

Last week, a rabbi and his daughter were attacked while walking in Berlin.

Although the attackers have not yet been caught, the police seem to be looking for people described as “Arab.”

The attack has sparked protests in Germany to denounce anti-Semitism in the European country.

German Muslim leaders were quick to denounce the attack, saying it runs counter against religious tolerance.

“We hope the perpetrator is caught soon and is held accountable,” Aiman Mazyek, the head of Germany’s Central Council of Muslims, said.

He said that Jews and Muslims had to stand together to fight violence of any type and “anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia in our society.”