Norway‘s foreign minister vows no ban on circumcision

Comments come as assurance to Simon Wiesenthal Center after Norwegian health minister announced new legislation on circumcision would be introduced.

Baby undergoes circumcision R 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Baby undergoes circumcision R 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The government of Norway will not ban the ritual circumcision of newborns, Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende assured the Simon Wiesenthal Center in a letter sent last week.
“The Norwegian government recognizes the importance of ritual male circumcision for the Jewish community in Norway... [and] it will not propose a ban on ritual circumcision,” the letter stated.
Norway has sent mixed signals on the issue of circumcision in the past, with Health Minister Bent Hoie announcing earlier this month that new legislation on non-medical circumcision of boys under 18 will be introduced before April 20.
Hoie’s announcement followed renewed calls by Norwegian Children’s Ombudswoman Anne Lindboe to ban non-medical circumcision of minors without their consent, which she said violates their rights.
Last week, Lindboe continued her anti-circumcision campaign, telling the Aftenposten newspaper that Jews and Muslims would stop circumcising children if they learned more about the risks and pain involved in the procedure.
“With good information about risk, pain and lack of health benefits of the intervention, I think parents from minorities would voluntarily abstain from circumcising children,” she surmised.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center commended the foreign minister for his statement, saying it hoped the letter would send “a clear message to Dr. Anne Lindboe, Norway’s children’s ombudswoman and other Norwegian figures who continue to publicly express their opposition to brit mila.”
While circumcision is still legal, ritual slaughter for the purposes of producing kosher meat has been banned in Norway for years, the Simon Wiesenthal Center noted in a statement regarding the Brende letter.
A resolution passed by the by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe last month called male ritual circumcision a “violation of the physical integrity of children,” prompting widespread condemnation from Jewish organizations worldwide.