The populist The Finns Party wants to ban male circumcision and the planned bill would criminalize all religious circumcisions on boys under 15.
During Wednesday’s parliamentary session, Finns Party MP, Vesa-Matti Saarakkala said that under Finnish law female circumcision is already considered a criminal act and the male circumcision should be banned as well. Another Finns MP, Olli Immonen stated that “due to uncontrollable immigration and Islamization, circumcisions will increase in the future.”
The Finns Party is the country''s third largest political party with 39 representatives in the 200-member Finnish parliament and it is also projected to a big winner in the upcoming municipal elections.
Jouko Jääskeläinen, Christian Democrat MP, defended male circumcision by arguing that it protects from HIV and other infections. Jussi Halla-aho, a vociferous critic of immigration and Islam, responded by saying that the proposed law is not trying to present a view on the deeper essence of Islam or Judaism, but that the bill is about a person’s right to physical and religious freedom.
I wrote in August that actions taken by several European countries to curb Muslim immigration and multiculturalism will likely have a negative impact on Jewish life in Europe.
I asked Gideon Bolotowsky, former chairman of the 1200-member Helsinki Jewish community and a vocal defender of male circumcision in the Finnish media, about the future of Jewish life in Europe.
“I believe that politicians, at the end of the day, will realize that there are no medical or other benefits – probably it’s the other way around – to be gained by banning circumcision,” he said. “Besides, religious freedom is an inalienable part of human rights – and banning circumcision would be a serious infringement on the religious freedom of Jews.”
Simon Livson, The Chief Rabbi of Finland, is worried. “A ban on circumcision would practically end Jewish life in Finland as we know it. Circumcision is an intrinsic part of our identity. If you criminalize it, you will criminalize an essential part of Judaism.”
It seems that the current European zeitgeist is conducive to arguments that want to ban circumcision. The debate has made some very strange bedfellows. The new right and the left have found common cause: the left is deeply secular and does not believe that religion can dictate one’s life and views all religions as largely archaic, while the populist right wants to hinder Muslim efforts to make Europe their home.