The World Jewish Congress joined Sweden’s Jewish Central Council on Sunday in condemning the recent decision by the Swedish Center Party to proceed with a ban on circumcision, a press release on behalf of the WJC stated.
Noting that circumcision is “a central tenet of life and ritual for Jews and Muslims,” WJC President Ronald S. Lauder argued that to make non-medically motivated circumcision in Sweden illegal, “is tantamount to decreeing an end to the future of [Jewish and Muslim] religious life in [Sweden].”
The Swedish Circumcision of Boys Act of 2001 already states that boys must be circumcised by a qualified medical practitioner, yet it does not deal with the question of what is the motivation of the act.
Jewish ritual circumcisers are currently licensed by the Swedish National Board of Health. When they carry out this religious duty on an 8-day-old boy, they are joined by a nurse or a medical doctor.
Currently led by Annie Loof, the Center Party is a liberal political party focused on issues of agriculture, gender equality and protecting the environment.
Loof said on Sunday while speaking to Swedish Radio that she “laments the decision,” and that the party leadership will examine how to proceed.She further said that her party values religious minorities and “this is nothing we will petition parliament about.”
The motion was put forward by the party's youth chapter, and while it was initially rejected by the party board, it won the popular vote during a gathering of the party in which roughly 700 proposals were discussed, hence going against the party leadership.
The youth chapter supporters of the proposal argued that babies and young children are unable to voice consent to such a medical procedure.
In the EU parliament, the party is within the Renew Europe group led by former prime minister of Romania Dacian Ciolos.
In 2014, Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported that the Swedish Medical Association suggested 12 years of age should be the minimum requirement for circumcision and that, without the consent of the patient, it can’t be performed.
The issue of circumcision is a long established point of controversy in Jewish relations with other cultures.
The first-century Greek scholar Apion ridiculed Jewish people for the practice. In the Augustan History it is mentioned as one of the causes of the Jewish war against the Romans, who decreed to abolish it.
In modern times, Communist Party members who had their sons circumcised were sent to gulags in Siberia in the USSR, yet not a single country in the world prohibits circumcision. It remains to be seen if Sweden will become the first.