Circumcision in Israel.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
A ban on circumcision “won’t happen on my watch,” the leader of Norway’s Progress Party, which last month voted in favor of a ban on religious circumcision of children, said.
Party leader and Finance Minister Siv Jensen spoke during a meeting on Monday with European Jewish leaders, including European Jewish Association Director Rabbi Menachem Margolin and Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomen Jacobs.
Proponents of the bill, which was discussed during the party’s national gathering over the weekend, claim that circumcision constitutes mental and physical harm to children and constitutes a serious violation of children’s rights.
But on Monday, Jensen calmed concerns of those present in the meeting, asserting that nothing would come of the proposal.
“Of course, I understand why Jews across Europe were concerned, but I want to reassure [everyong] that it is not on the government agenda, not on my party’s agenda and is not on my personal agenda. I want to make it clear: On my shift, this will not be followed up. Here in Norway we respect freedom of religion. We oppose antisemitism, we do not tolerate it and we will fight it.”
The Progress Party is the third-largest in parliament with 29 of 169 seats, and serves as a junior partner in Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s government.
Jacobs said he was “delighted” at the outcome of the meeting.
“The minister was clear and as far as I am concerned I trust her and her commitment,” he said. “It seems this issue was a storm in a teacup blown up by the media. From talking to Mrs.
Jensen it is obvious she understands us and the concerns that Jews across Europe have and has an excellent relationship with the local community.”
Margolin said it was “imperative” to secure such a commitment, “as without it, other parties across Europe, who don’t take such a positive position on Judaism and our practices, would be emboldened to act on circumcision, just as they have sought to act on ritual slaughter.
“Norway remains a safe haven for Jews and we must be vigilant to make sure that it remains so. This was our clear message to the minister,” he said.
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