Norway promotes anti-circumcision law
Scandinavian country's health minister plans to introduce new regulations on ritual circumcision following call by children’s ombudswoman to ban non-medical circumcision of minors due to 'violation of rights.' European Jewish Association head seeks Israel's help on matter
The country's Jewish community is outraged by the announcement, and the European Jewish Association's general director sought the help of the Israeli government on Wednesday.
Video courtesy of jn1.tv
According to a report by Norwegian daily Aftenposten, the new legislation on non-medical circumcision of boys under 18 will be introduced before April 20, before Easter.
"We will review submissions on the matter before we can decide what should be the government’s position," Hoie told Aftenposten last week. He did not say whether the regulations would introduce new restrictions on religious circumcision ceremonies in the country.
Lindboe said non-medical circumcision of minors without their consent violates their rights. "This is not due to any lack of understanding of minorities or religious traditions, but because the procedure is irreversible, painful and risky,” she told Aftenposten.
'Children exposed to unnecessary suffering'
The Labor Party’s Ruth Mari Grung, who is a member of the parliamentary Committee on Health and Care Services, said in response to the proposal: "As a modern society, we should work to eliminate practices that expose children and people to unnecessary suffering."
A ban is also supported by the Center Party, which has 10 seats in the parliament, the RT network reports.
According to RT, this position is shared by other members of the Labor Party, which currently holds the largest share of 55 seats in Norway’s 169-strong legislative and is in opposition to the ruling Conservative-Progress coalition.
Hoie voiced concerns that a ban would force the groups practicing ritual circumcision underground, where the procedure would be performed by non-medics and pose greater health risks to the children.
'Anti-Semitism disguised as protection of rights'Ervin Kohn, president of the Jewish community in Oslo, told JTA that he considers the issue "an existential matter" for the Jewish community of about 700 members.
He is joined by Rabbi Menachem Margolin, general director of the European Jewish Association (EJA), who warned Wednesday that Lindboe's call to ban non-medical circumcision of minors in her country, as it is a violation of human rights, ‘’is charlatan and is not supported by any scientific facts,’’ the European Jewish Press reports.
"Modern medicines, including non-Jewish international health organizations overwhelmingly advocate circumcision and its contribution to preventing diseases," Rabbi Margolin says.
He has even sent an urgent letter to Israel's Health Ministry Yael German and to National Council for the Child head Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, asking that they appeal to their Norwegian counterparts and warn them against promoting a law which he said would be destructive for the Jewish community in the country.
According to the rabbi, Children Ombudswoman Lindboe is "at best misinformed of the facts." He says he is worried ‘"that it is part of an upsurge of attacks made by alleged liberals toward anyone who thinks differently.’"
Rabbi Margolin claims that only seven circumcisions are performed in Norway each year. ‘"The fact that Ombudswoman Lindboe chooses to occupy herself so eagerly in the matter, raises the fear that we are yet again witnessing anti-Semitism disguised as protection of human rights,’" he says.
History of anti-circumcision legislation
The Norwegian declaration comes a month and a half after the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which represents most of the continent's states, passed a resolution calling male ritual circumcision a "violation of the physical integrity of children according to human rights standards."
Jewish organizations expressed their fear that this declarative move would be perceived as a professional recommendation by the most important body in the continent on democracy and human rights issues, which might lead to a wave of legislation banning circumcision across Europe.
The decision drew an angry reaction from Israel, and President Shimon Peres even said the anti-circumcision resolution violated human rights and expressed his outrage over the comparison between male circumcision and female mutilation.
Council of Europe chief Thorbjoern Jagland responded in a letter to Peres, assuring him that "nothing in the body of our legally binding standards would lead us to put on equal footing the issue of female genital mutilation and the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons."
The struggle for the right to practice circumcision has been held in several countries, and in the past year Jewish and Muslim organization scored a significant victory in Germany, where circumcision was permitted after five months of uncertainty since a court in Cologne defined the ritual as "a serious and irreversible interference in the integrity of the human body."
The German parliament passed a law protecting the right to circumcise infant boys and granting parents the right to circumcise their sons using a certified circumciser.