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May 8, 2017 10:47 am

Major Norwegian Party Votes to Ban Circumcision, Prompting Concern Among Country’s Jewish Community

avatar by Ben Cohen

Norway’s Progress Party wants circumcision banned for the under-16s. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Norway’s libertarian Progress Party voted at its annual national conference this past weekend to ban the circumcision of males below the age of 16.

The measure, should it become government policy, would prevent Norwegian Jews and Muslims from carrying out a central requirement of both faiths. Jewish law states that all males should be circumcised eight days after birth, in recognition of God’s covenant with the biblical patriarch Abraham.

The Progress Party — a partner in Norway’s ruling coalition and known for its free market advocacy and anti-immigrant policies — also voted to ban Muslim girls from wearing hijabs in public schools.

The circumcision measure passed after a compromise motion that would have prevented state funding for the practice, and not circumcision itself, failed to win support. Progress Party leader Siv Jensen told Norwegian journalists she was personally not in favor of an outright ban. Jensen also invoked her party’s support for Israel to deflect the anxieties of Norway’s tiny Jewish community of 1,300.

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“This is very sad,” Ervin Kohn, a Jewish community leader in Norway, told the Aftenposten newspaper.  “They [the Progress Party] must know they won’t get a majority for this in parliament. It seems like they want to send a signal that we are unwelcome in the country.”

Kohn tweeted encouragement for Norwegian voters to support “any other party” in the upcoming parliamentary election this September.

Rabbi Menachem Margolin — the general director of the European Jewish Association — called on Israel to intervene.

“I have no doubt that the State of Israel — the state of the Jewish people — cannot remain indifferent to it, and I call on you to exert all your political influence in order to prevent the exclusion of Jews from life in various European countries,” Margolin wrote in a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Progress Party decision came as members of the parliament in Belgium’s Wallonia region voted unanimously in favor of a ban on kosher and halal slaughter.

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