Bishop Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir believes a ban on child circumcision could make Jews and Muslims feel “unwelcome” in Iceland, and would effectively criminalise their religions.
“In the bill, two different human rights viewpoints are represented,” a statement from the Bishop reads in part. “On the one hand, there is an irreversible intervention of a child’s body, and on the other hand, the right of the child to grow up in the religious and cultural practices of its parents and relations, which can mold its self-image.”
While the Bishop offered praise for Iceland having banned the circumcision of girls in 2005, she believes Parliament needs to “provide room to discuss this sensitive matter”, especially with regards to different cultures.
“The danger that arises, if this bill becomes law, is that Judaism and Islam will become criminalised religions, and that individuals who subscribe to these faiths will be banned in this country and unwelcome,” the Bishop says. “We must avoid all such forms of extremism.”
The bill is still in the beginning stages in Parliament, and has a ways to go before becoming law. Even so, the discussion about the bill has been considerably lively, both in Iceland and across the international press.
For the record, there has only been one male circumcision recorded at the Directorate of Health, in 2006, and independent medical professionals in Iceland have performed 13 circumcisions of boys under 18 from 2010 to 2016.