Opposition Erupts as Iceland Eyes Banning Most Circumcisions
Icelandic lawmakers are considering a law that would ban the circumcision of boys for non-medical reasons, making it the first European country to do so.
February 25, 2018 • BY EGILL BJARNASON • Associated Press
[Image] In this Feb. 23, 2018, photo, Imam Salmann Tamimi addresses the congregation at The Reykjavík Mosque during Friday midday prayers. He warned his multinational congregation about the proposed ban on circumcision of boys for non-medical reasons and called it “an attack on all religion and especially Judaism.” (AP Photos/Egill Bjarnason) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — Icelandic lawmakers are considering a law that would ban the circumcision of boys for non-medical reasons, making it the first European country to do so.
Some religious leaders in Iceland and across Europe have called the bill an attack on religious freedom. It is seen as a particular threat by Jews and Muslims who traditionally embrace the practice.
Under the proposed law, the circumcision of boys — removing the foreskin of the penis, usually when the child is a newborn — would be viewed as equal to female genital mutilation and punishable by up to six years in prison.
“This is fundamentally about not causing unnecessary harm to a child,” said Silja Dogg Gunnarsdottir, lawmaker for the centrist Progressive Party, who introduced the bill this month.
The proposed law calls circumcision a violation of human rights “since boys are not able to give an informed consent of an irreversible physical intervention.”
Circumcision is not common in Iceland, a small Atlantic Ocean island nation of 340,000 people that is overwhelmingly Lutheran or atheist, with an estimated 100 to 200 Jews and about 1,100 practicing Muslims.
The bill has eight co-sponsors but is considered unlikely to get a majority in the 63-seat Iceland parliament. It does not have the formal backing of any government ministers but has drawn the support of 422 Icelandic doctors who favor outlawing the 4,000-year-old religious practice.
They issued a joint statement Wednesday saying circumcision violates the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and also the physicians’ Hippocratic Oath that says: “First, do no harm.”
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