Marie Antoinette has (falsely) been attributed the following statement; They don’t have bread? Give them cake!
Now it seems our newly appointed Children’s Ombudsman is trying her best to better this (lifted from Dagen.no):
Ombudsman wants to replace circumcision with symbolic religious ritual
The Children’s Ombudsman, Anne Lindboe wants a symbolic ritual without surgical intervention to replace circumcision of boys. – Is it her task to propose alternative rituals for Jews, asks Ervin Kohn, head of the Jewish community.
By: Birgit Opheim
“I am the ombudsman for all children – including Muslim and Jewish children. Their children are entitled to the same protection as all other children, “writes Anne Lindboe in a debate in Vårt Land.
She regards male circumcision to be without medical benefits, an unnecessary pain, and a violation of a person’s right to decide over his own body.
- Ignores Jewish children
- It’s as if she does not listen when she suggests a minimum age for circumcision, says Ervin Kohn. He cannot interpret Anne Lindboe’s statements to mean anything other than she forgets that she is the ombudsman for Jewish children as well.
- We must circumcise the boys on the eighth day, he said, referring to the fact that research also demonstrates that this is an optimal time for this procedure time since blood coagulates best on that day.
- We will not be able to live in a society where circumcision is forbidden, he said.
Kohn expects that the consequences would be that young people of childbearing age left Norway, that it will be difficult to get hold of a rabbi and the Jewish community would eventually die out.
The leader of the Jewish community supports regulation:
- Jews in Norway have strict procedures and a good practice. Not everyone has it, he says. Kohn also stresses that the Jewish community has not cost the general health service neither money nor resources:
- We have provided for it ourselves, he explains.
Mohammad Usman Rana, Muslim social commentator and physician also reacts to the Ombudsman’s initiative:
- She has no authority to replace the such key traditions of Jews and Muslims. This must be an expression of that in Norway increasingly defines a non-religious upbringing as a neutral, the former head of the Muslim Student Union.
He also regards the Ombudsman’s arguments as weak:
- Children are submitted to surgical procedures without giving their consent, he notes, adding that parents choose surgery for children with protruding ears on the basis of a conviction for what is normal for them.
- Male circumcision is a small and largely risk-free procedure. When I studied medicine in the United States, we asked all women who had male children asked if they would circumcise the child straight away, he says.
Symbol of the Covenant
Jan Opsal, religion researcher at the School of Mission and Theology in Stavanger, also calls for the scientific evidence that circumcision of boys is harmful, and also points out that the right to religious freedom is missing from this debate.
- If the Ombudsman does not reflect on religion, this initiative stands out as problematic and unilateral, he said.
Opsal explains that circumcision of boys is the foremost symbol of the Pact in Judaism, and one of the most important symbols of Jewish identity. In Islamic tradition, there is not a direct commandment of circumcision, but is nevertheless generally prevalent.
- I don’t know of any Muslim cultures where it is not practiced, he says.
Opsal is unaware of any argument on reform Judais that calls for alternatives to circumcision:
- The point the Children’s Ombudsman is trying to make is that a religious acceptance for an alternative ritual will be an essential starting point. Starting with a legal proposal bears witness to a little judicious way to operate. Dialogue with religious communities before such a proposal was made public would have strengthened the Ombudsman integrity.
The Ombudsman is currently on vacation and was not available for comments.