Leading House members urge Iceland to back down on circumcision ban


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The leading Republican and Democrat in the House on foreign policy joined to urge Iceland to stand down from a proposed bill to ban circumcision.

“While Jewish and Muslim populations in Iceland may be small, your country’s ban could be exploited by those who stoke xenophobia and anti-Semitism in countries with more diverse populations,” said the letter sent April 5 to the embassy of Iceland in Washington, D.C., by Reps. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, and Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., its top Democrat.

“As a partner nation, we urge your government to stop this intolerant bill from advancing any further,” said the letter, which was released to the public on Thursday by the Orthodox Union, a group that has spoken out against the proposed ban.

“While Iceland’s Jewish community may be one of the smallest in the world, the legislation to ban male circumcision looms as a large assault upon Jewish – and Muslim – religious freedom and practice,” Nathan Diament, the OU’s Washington director, said in a statement.

A bill that would ban circumcision is moving through Iceland’s parliament and has broad popular support.

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