Dagbladet, which has a daily circulation of approximately 75,000, published the cartoon on Tuesday depicting two men, one of them bearded and the other wearing a kippah, standing next to signs that read “yes to circumcision” and “religious freedom.” A third man wearing a tattered raincoat tells them, “I know what you mean. I, too, get told by invisible men to mess around with boys’ penises.”
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, called on Norwegian authorities to take action against Dagbladet for what he said was hate speech.
“This cartoon is a blatant attack on religious freedom and is deeply offensive to all religious communities,” Goldschmidt said in a statement. “This publication has a track record of disrespecting religion and as the editor has shown that he has neither restraint nor responsibility, I urge the relevant authorities to act.”
In 2013, Dagbladet was criticized in Norway and beyond for publishing a caricature about circumcision showing Orthodox Jews cutting limbs off a bloody baby while demanding an apology from police. The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean, Rabbi Abraham Copper, said the cartoon was “so virulently anti-Semitic it would make Hitler and Himmler weep tears of joy,” and the Norwegian Center against Racism said it reflected a “gross failure in editorial discretion.”
Many European secularists regard circumcision on minors, which is performed by Muslims and Jews, as a violation of children’s rights. A similar debate is occurring across Europe and in the continent’s north about the issue of ritual slaughter of animals, which devout Jews and Muslims require be performed on conscious animals.
Several parties in Norway, where ritual slaughter has been prohibited since 1929, support banning nonmedical circumcision of boys.
In 2014, the Norwegian government introduced legislation that regulated nonmedical circumcision of boys stipulating that the procedure must be performed under the supervision and in the presence of a licensed physician, but it may be physically carried out by other persons.