Circumcision is a stipulation of the Prophet and therefore non-negotiable. In an interview with Eren Güvercin, Feridun Zaimoglu makes a resolute plea for the impunity of this Jewish and Muslim ritual
As a German Muslim who – in your own words – was brought up by his parents in “Prussian-Ottoman” fashion, you were certainly circumcised as a child, as prescribed by Islam. Were you traumatised by the experience?
Feridun Zaimoglu: The day before the circumcision, my mother took me by the hand and walked with me through the streets of our neighbourhood. I was dressed in a white prince outfit. Children ran past and touched me. Young women and older ladies smiled at me, stroked my cheeks and hair. They were neither encouraging me to be brave, nor spurring me on. They were beaming, and I regarded them with awe. I received small gifts: a bag of marbles, handkerchiefs perfumed with violets, a comb and shoelaces.
The next day, towards evening, the circumciser came. He spoke to me as though I was a small adult. I sat on a chair, and an uncle from my mother’s side of the family stood on my left. An uncle from my father’s side of the family was standing to my right – he offered reassuring words to my mother, who was standing in the doorway. It happened very quickly; before I noticed anything I was in my mother’s arms. Relatives and friends clapped and cried out: “It’s all done now – praise be to God!” I had been transformed from an uncircumcised boy into a circumcised Muslim.