European Jewish Press
February 5, 2014
'The Norwegian Government has never considered banning circumcision and it never will'by Maud Swinnen
BRUSSELS (EJP)---The Norwegian government has never considered banning circumcision and ‘’it never will,’’ is the message of Norway's Foreign Minister conveyed Wednesday by the Ambassador to Belgium, Niels Engelschion, to a Jewish delegation during a meeting in Brussels.
In November, Norway's Children Ombudswoman proposed to ban non-medical circumcision of minors and Norway's Health Minister announced himself that his Government was pursuing a legislation banning circumcision in the Scandinavian country and that the Parliament was expected to vote on it in April.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Director General of the European Jewish Association (EJA) had called on the Norwegian Foreign and Health Ministers ‘’to act decisively in order to ensure freedom of religion in the country.’’
He also urged Israeli officials to turn to their Norwegian counterparts and protest this ‘’devastating’’ legislation for Jewish communities across the country.
In response, Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende asked the Ambassador in Brussels to meet with Rabbi Margolin and European Jewish Community Center (EJCC) Director Avi Tawil to make the pledge that the Norwegian government ‘’will never consider banning circumcision in the country".
Ambassador Engelschion added that the government respects the Jewish community and will protect its freedom of religion.
Rabbi Margolin thanked the Ambassador for his government's commitment and said: "Calls to ban non-medical circumcision of minors in Norway, as it is a violation of human rights, are not supported by any scientific facts. Modern medicine, including non- Jewish international health organizations advocate circumcision and its contribution to preventing diseases.’’
In other Scandinavian countries, Sweden and Denmark, medical associations have also recommended banning non-medical circumcision of boys. Sweden’s Minister for Integration, Erik Ullenhag, assured however that existing rules that allow for ritual circumcision would not be changed.