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Europe - Scandinavia - Judaism

Jews protest Swedish circumcision restriction
(Reuters, June 7, 2001)

NEW YORK, June 7 (Reuters) - A leading Jewish group accused Sweden on Thursday of placing the first legal restriction on Jewish religious practice in Europe since the Nazi era with a law that affects how circumcisions are carried out in that country.

The New York-based World Jewish Congress said that it is receiving many complaints from European members about a law passed by the Swedish parliament on June 1 that said circumcisions can only be performed after the administering of an analgesic by a doctor, nurse or person with special permit.

The law was passed after a circumcision led to the death of a Muslim boy. Both Jews and Muslims practice circumcision for religious reasons with Jews performing the rite when the child is eight days old and Muslims when they are considerably older.

About 3,000 boys a year of both religions are circumcised in Sweden, the WJC said.

A WJC spokesman said, "This is the first legal restriction placed on a Jewish rite in Europe since the Nazi era. This new legislation is totally unacceptable to the Swedish Jewish community." the Swedish Jewish community numbers about 18,500.

Jewish circumcisions are performed by a religious official in a religious ceremony.

The WJC spokesman added he expected that the issue would be discussed when the Swedish prime minister visits Israel over the weekend. The law is to take effect on Oct. 1.

17:16 06-07-01

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