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Jews, Muslims Condemn Iceland for Proposing Circumcision Ban

02-20-2018
Baby feet

Religious groups are outraged after Iceland's parliament proposed a bill that would ban all non-medically necessary circumcisions on boys under the age of 18.

"Those procedures are unnecessary, done without their informed consent, non-reversible and can cause all kinds of severe complications, disfigurations and even death," MP Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir told Justice for Men and Boys. "Thankfully, many do not have any complications, but some do and one is too many if the procedure is unnecessary."

The law, which is called Bill 183, is meant to protect the "individual rights" of boys who cannot express their desire for or against the procedure at such a young age. Iceland banned circumcisions on girls in 2005, Gunnarsdóttir claims this is just a continuation of that law.

"Bill 183 is exactly the same as the law we already implemented, except the word "girls" is now "children". We should have the same law for all children," she said. "The bill is not put forward against religion. It is put forward to protect children and their right. Banning circumcision of boys does not go against the religious right of their parents."

However, the European Jewish Congress disagrees and wrote an open letter Tuesday condemning the law, saying it would "guarantee that no Jewish community will be established in that country."

"Iceland would be the only country to ban one of the most central, if not the most central rite in the Jewish tradition in modern times," the letter said.

The bill is not put forward against religion. It is put forward to protect children and their right. Banning circumcision of boys does not go against the religious right of their parents."

Muslim leaders have also condemned the law.  Imam Ahmad Seddeeq of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Iceland says the law is a "violation to the right of religious freedom."

"People who believe in something try to do it as long as it is legal. If it's not legal here, they will do it in their home countries or other countries," Seddeeq said.

An estimated one in three men are circumcised, and religion is the biggest motivating factor. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics found in 2012 that there may be medical benefits to circumcision.

"The health benefits of circumcision include lower risks of acquiring HIV, genital herpes, human papilloma virus and syphilis," the academy said.  "Circumcision also lowers the risk of penile cancer over a lifetime; reduces the risk of cervical cancer in sexual partners, and lowers the risk of urinary tract infections in the first year of life."

Researchers also found some drawbacks to the procedure, which include "bleeding and swelling."

The new bill in Iceland has yet to be decided on and Gunnarsdóttir said she is "uncertain" what the results will be.

 

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