Norwegian official: Jews, Muslims circumcise out of ignorance


(JTA) — The Norwegian government’s child welfare adviser said 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,” Anne Lindboe, Norway’s children’s ombudsman, told the Norwegian Aftenpost daily last week.

Lindboe, who last year advised Jews and Muslims to replace circumcision with “a symbolic ritual,” also told the paper that non-medical circumcision of pre-teen boys should be outlawed and those performing it should be punished similarly to people who use violence against children.

“We introduced a law on violence against children even though we had reason to believe that individuals would still be beaten and mistreated,” she said, dismissing concerns raised in the Norwegian media that a ban on ritual circumcision would mean that parents would perform it illegally.

“If 15 years is set as the minimum age, we expect Norwegian parents to follow and respect the law,” said Lindboe, a longtime advocate of the criminalization of ritual circumcision, which she considers a form of abuse and infringement of children’s rights to “physical integrity.”

She added: “I think it’s disrespectful towards minorities to assume that they are going to break the law.”

Lindboe was commenting on Norwegian Health Minister Bent Hoie’s announcement this month that Norway would introduce new legislation “to regulate” ritual circumcision.

The details of the planned legislation were not made known but Ervin Kohn, president of the Jewish Community of Oslo, told JTA he did not expect it to lead to a ban on ritual circumcision in Norway.

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