In Brief

Iceland plan to outlaw circumcision sparks outcry worldwide

Parliament considering ban on procedure for anything other than medical reasons

Iceland may become the first European country to make it illegal to “removes part or all of (a child’s) sexual organs” for non-medical reasons, sparking a global religious debate.

Circumcision is a religious ritual in both Judaism and Islam. Jewish boys are circumcised eight days after birth, while Muslim practices vary widely. The World Health Organization estimates that one in three males worldwide is circumcised.

Iceland’s bill proposes a prison term of up to six years for anyone found guilty of carrying out a circumcision on a male child other than for medical reasons, The Guardian reports.

The bill was introduced this month by Iceland Progressive Party MP Silja Dogg Gunnarsdottir, who says the issue is about “children’s rights, not about freedom of belief”. Supporters compare it to the law passed by Iceland in 2005 banning female genital mutilation, says USA Today.

The Jewish communities of Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway issued a joint statement saying they “strongly protest” the bill as it would “attack Judaism”, The Jewish Chronicle reports.

Imam Ahmad Seddeeq, of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Iceland, also criticised the plan. He told the BBC that the procedure was “part of our faith” and “something that touches our religion”, and said the proposed ban was potentially a contravention of religious freedom.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the Catholic Church in the EU, told the Catholic News Agency that “protecting the health of children is a legitimate goal of every society, but in this case this concern is instrumentalised, without any scientific basis, to stigmatise certain religious communities”.

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