Danish attempt to ban circumcision riles local Jewish community

Denmark’s Chief Rabbi says Jewish community “tired” of having to fight another attempt to ban non-medical circumcision.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The Chief Rabbi of Denmark said Monday that the Jewish community there is tired of having to fight another attempt to ban religious circumcision, but added he was happy to have the support of all religious leaders and the government.

“This is something we have been fighting for the past 25 years. We are very quite tired of it,” Rabbi Yair Melchior told World Israel News.

The Danish parliament is expected to vote on a bill banning non-medical circumcision in the country after a fringe member of the legislature called for the ban.

Simon Emil Ammitzbøll-Bille, the head of the Forward Party that holds only a single seat in Denmark’s 179-seat Folketing, submitted the bill in what is seen as a bid to leverage the populism of the issue to gain himself publicity.

Ammitzbøll-Bille has a history of political flip-flopping and has been in at least half a dozen different political parties since 2008. As a member of parliament he once represented three different parties in the same year.

“It’s the first time since Jews came to Denmark 400 years ago that we feel that we have a question mark about our presence as Jews here,” Melchior said, but added “we believe that we will have support of the big majority” in parliament to defeat the bill.

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Melchior said the issue was pushed by the Danish association of anesthetists who want to allow circumcision only after a person becomes 18 years of age.

Melchior said there was unity across the religious community to fight the bill.

“All religious leaders in Denmark are opposed to this ban,” he said, “and the government supports us.”

The chief rabbi noted that in Scandinavia the issue of a ban is “populist” because anti-circumcision activists have pushed it as a children’s rights issue.

The issue came up in Scandinavia two years ago when a bill to ban non-medical circumcision was submitted to parliament in Iceland and was also considered in Denmark, but was dropped after it was roundly criticized.

The Jewish community was supported in their opposition to the ban by the Catholic Church. Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, called the ban an attempt “to stigmatize certain religious communities.”

“The Catholic Church in the European Union considers any attempt on the fundamental right to freedom of religion as unacceptable. The criminalization of circumcision is a very grave measure that raises deep concern,” Marx told the Catholic World Report.