Norwegian ruling party votes to ban circumcision for men under 16 years old

Anti-immigrant party is third largest in country and works in coalition with Norwegian government

Rachael Revesz
Monday 08 May 2017 11:43 BST
FrP voted in favour of banning ritual circumcision of boys below 16 years
FrP voted in favour of banning ritual circumcision of boys below 16 years

A political party in Norway has voted to ban the ritual circumcision of boys under the age of 16 and several other measures which have been blasted as an attack on minorities.

In its national annual conference over the weekend, the anti-immigrant and libertarian Progress Party (FrP) voted to also ban hijabs in public schools, as well as forbidding the religious ritual of circumcision for young men.

Advocates claimed that circumcision resulted in mental and physical harm to children and was a serious violation of human rights.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg heads a coalition between the Conservatives and the Progress Party, which is the third largest party in the country with 29 of the 169 seats in parliament.

The party leader, Siv Jensen, told the Aftenposten newspaper that she was against forbidding circumcision.

The reportedly last-minute and chaotic voting schedule meant that the proposed compromise - banning state funding for circumcision - failed.

Ms Jensen insisted the move was not designed to target minorities and that her party had consistently defended Israel.

The vote in Norway comes a day after Belgium’s Parliament of Wallonia voted in favour of banning ritual slaughter, which would affect Jewish kosher and Muslim halal rituals. It comes into effect in September 2019.

“This is very sad,” Ervin Kohn, a Jewish community leader in Norway, told Aftenposten.

“They [the Progress Party] must know they won’t get a majority for this in Parliament. It seems like they want to send a signal that we are unwelcome in the country.”

He tweeted encouragement for Norwegian voters to support “any other party” in the election this autumn.

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Another opposing voice came from Rabbi Menachem Margolin, general director of the European Jewish Association. He wrote a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call for collaboration between European Jewish organisations and government to prevent the proliferation of anti-Jewish legislation.

“I have no doubt that the State of Israel – the state of the Jewish people – cannot remain indifferent to it, and I call on you to exert all your political influence in order to prevent the exclusion of Jews from life in various European countries,” the letter read.

At its national conference, the Progress Party also voted against the wearing of hijabs in public schools. The move follows the party’s third deputy, Aina Stenersen, calling last September for the ban of full-body swimsuits worn by some Muslim woman.

FrP’s former leader, Carl Hagen, wants to ban municipal employees in Oslo from wearing the hijab and other religious symbols.

The party also voted in favour of dual citizenship, and is assured of a majority vote in favour of the measure in Parliament. If someone holds dual citizenship and is found to have violated asylum or immigration regulations, the party argued it would be easier to strip that person of Norwegian citizenship and deport them.

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