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Norway's FrP votes to ban circumcision, hijab; Serious blow to religious freedom, say Jews, Muslims

Wednesday May 10, 2017 8:44 PM, AFP

[A child is being circumcised. Reuters/File photo.]

Norway's anti-immigrant and libertarian Progress Party (FrP), which is part of the ruling coalition, voted on Tuesday to ban circumcision for boys under 16 and bar hijabs in public schools.

The decisions were taken at the national annual conference of the FrP, in which the advocates of the circumcision ban claimed it causes "mental and physical harm to children."

Norwegian Premier Erna Solberg is the head of a coalition between the Conservatives and the Progress Party. The third largest party FrP has 29 of the 169 seats in the Norwegian parliament.

Meanwhile, the leader Siv Jensen, in an interview to Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten said that she was against forbidding circumcision.

"This is very sad. 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," Ervin Kohn, a Jewish community leader in Norway, told Aftenposten.

On the Muslim front, the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD) Vice Chairman Fatih Zingal told Daily Sabah in an interview that the decision harms religious freedom in Europe.

"Religious freedom is one of the pillars of European law," he said.

"We experienced a similar situation in Germany as well. They also proposed to ban circumcision for boys under 16, then we and the Jewish diaspora opposed it. As it is a religious obligation for Jews to circumcise their children on the eighth day after birth, they had to backtrack on the proposal," he said.

"This is a serious blow to religious freedom," he added.

Circumcision is a common practice among Jews and Muslims.



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