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Iceland Proposed Ban on Male Circumcision Stirs Uproar

REYKJAVIK – A bill in Iceland’s parliament that would ban circumcision has stirred condemnations from different religious groups, calling it an attack on religious freedom.

“It’s… part of our faith,” Imam Ahmad Seddeeq at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Iceland told BBC.

“It’s something that touches our religion and I believe that this is… a contravention [of] religious freedom.”

Introduced by MP Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir of the Progressive Party, the draft law would impose a six-year prison term on anyone guilty of “removing part or all of the [child’s] sexual organs.”

Gunnarsdóttir introduced the bill at the start of the month, arguing the practice violates the child’s rights.

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“We are talking about children’s rights, not about freedom of belief.

“Everyone has the right to believe in what they want, but the rights of children come above the right to believe.”

Iceland passed a law in 2005 banning female genital mutilation, and supporters of this move have compared it to that law.

The country is thought to have roughly 250 Jewish citizens and around 1,500 Muslim citizens.

The ban also stirred condemnations from Jewish campaign group Milah UK which stated that comparisons with female genital mutilation are unwarranted, adding that in the case of male circumcision there is “no recognized long-term negative impact on the child.”

The Bishop of Reykjavik, Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir, warned Jewish and Muslim people could feel “unwelcome” in Iceland.

“The danger that arises, if this bill becomes law, is that Judaism and Islam will become criminalized religions,” she said.

“We must avoid all such forms of extremism.”

Although there is no reference to circumcision at all in the Qur’an, there is a well-established tradition of male circumcision in Islam as an act of “sunnah,” or confirmed practice of Prophet Muhammad and his companions.