Nine out of ten Danes would ban ritual circumcision of boys

It would be “an undemocratic and anti-Semitic act”, claims the chief rabbi of the Jewish Society in Denmark

Nine out of ten Danes would ban ritual circumcision of boys before they reach the age of 18, reveals a new survey carried out by Megafon for Politiken and TV2.

Two years ago, a similar survey conducted by YouGov showed that 74 percent of Danes wanted such a ban.

Jair Melchior, the chief rabbi of the Jewish Society in Denmark, contends that banning this ritual would be undemocratic and show that Denmark does not respect religious minorities.

“For us, circumcision is a natural element that is just as important as baptism. It is our hallmark and a part of our culture,” Melchior told Politiken.

“Although opponents of circumcision are not anti-Semites, if they succeed in convincing politicians to ban [the practice], it will be an anti-Semitic act. It will be a law directed against the Jews.”

READ MORE: Possible circumcision ban sparks religious backlash

Ignorance rather than intolerance
In the Jewish tradition, the ritual circumcision is carried out eight days after a boy’s birth, while in the Muslim tradition it usually takes place before the age of ten.

Imam Naveed Baig from the Danish Islamic Centre that the opposition against ritual male circumcision  is “not an expression of intolerance” but rather “an expression of a lack of information and dialogue”.

In 2013, the Danish Health Authority reported that between 1,000 and 2,000 boys are annually being circumcised in Denmark.

READ MORE: Danish government agrees that circumcision is a human right

Respect for bodily integrity
Intact Denmark, an organisation that campaigns against all types of genital mutilation carried out on children both in Denmark and abroad, is pleased with the poll results.

“For us, it is important to ensure the individual’s right to decide over his body and his genitals,” Lena Nyhus, the chairwoman at Intact Denmark, told Politiken.

“The surgery cannot be undone. And we have to respect the individual’s bodily integrity, sexual anatomy and religious freedom.”

Neither Venstre nor Socialdemokraterne have plans to criminalise male circumcision, but Enhedslisten, Radikale and SF have all expressed opposition towards the practice.