Leader of Far-right Populist Party in Sweden Pushes Circumcision Ban

The 'Prohibition of nonmedical circumcision' text describes the practice as 'backward' child abuse, despite its religious significance for Jews and Muslims

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Richard Jomshof, secretary of the Sweden Democrats in Stockholm, Sweden, on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018.
Richard Jomshof, secretary of the Sweden Democrats in Stockholm, Sweden, on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018.Credit: Bloomberg

A leader of the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats party submitted a draft motion calling for a ban on nonmedical circumcision of boys, which the text defined as “backward” child abuse.

Sweden Democrats Secretary Richard Jomshof on Wednesday submitted the draft for a nonbinding motion on circumcision to the Riksdag, the Swedish parliament, where his party is the third largest with 18 percent of the seats.

Titled “Prohibition of nonmedical circumcision,” the proposed text, on which a vote has not yet been scheduled, states that “The Riksdag stands behind what is stated in the motion to introduce a ban on nonmedical circumcision of children and announces this to the government.”

In Jomshof’s reasoning for the draft motion, he wrote that the practice, which Jews perform on 8-day-old babies and many Muslims have performed a bit later in childhood, “is a regular abuse of the individual child as well as an infringement of the child’s integrity and self-determination.”

>> Opinion: It’s 2017. Time to Talk About Circumcision

The reasoning also explores how several medical associations and agencies in Sweden oppose nonmedical circumcision of boys on these grounds, although it is not prohibited by law. The agencies mentioned include Sweden’s Nursing Council and the Swedish Children’s Association.

“It would be sad if Sweden internationally appeared as a backward nation instead of actively seeking to protect children’s rights,” Jomshof added.

Throughout Scandinavia, the nonmedical circumcision of boys under 18 is the subject of a debate on children’s rights and religious freedoms. The children’s ombudsmen of all Nordic countries — Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway — released a joint declaration in 2013 proposing a ban, though none of these countries has enacted one.
In the debate, circumcision is under attack from right-wing politicians who view it as a foreign import whose proliferation is often associated mostly with Muslim immigration. It is also opposed by left-wing liberals and atheists who denounce it as a primitive form of child abuse.

The anti-Islam Sweden Democrats party dramatically increased their share of the vote in the general elections last month, clinching about 18 percent compared to 12.9 percent in the previous election.

Whereas it has maintained a favorable attitude toward the Jewish state — last month a party member submitted a draft motion calling for Sweden’s embassy in Israel to be moved to Jerusalem — the party has a long and problematic record vis-à-vis members’ attitudes to the Jewish people.

Ahead of the elections, regional politicians from Sweden Democrats were caught making anti-Semitic statements online, including using a picture of Anne Frank to mock Holocaust victims.

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