Norwegian minister vows to protect circumcision after voting to oppose the practice

(JTA) – The leader of Norway’s second-largest party said she would not advance prohibitions against nonmedical circumcision of boys younger than 18 after she voted for a motion opposing the ritual.

Siv Jensen, the leader of the Progress Party – a junior coalition partner of the ruling Conservative Party – voted in favour of a motion opposing ritual circumcision during the annual party convention held June 6 north of Oslo.

Jensen, who is Norway’s finance minister, later said she had intended to vote against the motion, which passed with a comfortable majority, explaining the voting was “confusing.” She also said she “respects the will” of the majority of party members who voted in favour of the ban.

Yet during a meeting Monday in Oslo with a rabbi from Belgium and another rabbi from the Netherlands, Jensen said she would not advance prohibitions on the ritual.

“I want to reassure that it is not on the government agenda, not on my party’s agenda and is not on my personal agenda,” Jensen reportedly told Rabbi Menachem Margolin from the Brussels-based European Jewish Association and Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs.

“I want to make it clear: On my shift, this will not be followed up. Here in Norway we respect freedom of religion. We oppose anti-Semitism, we do not tolerate it and we will fight it.”

Many European secularists regard circumcision on minors, which is performed by Muslims and Jews, as a violation of children’s rights. A similar debate is taking place across Europe and on the continent’s north about the issue of ritual slaughter of animals, which devout Jews and Muslims require be performed on conscious animals.

Several parties in Norway, where ritual slaughter has been prohibited since 1929, support banning nonmedical circumcision of boys.

In 2014, the Norwegian government introduced legislation that regulated nonmedical circumcision of boys stipulating that the procedure must be performed under the supervision and in the presence of a licensed physician, but it may be physically carried out by other persons.

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