Reykjavík, Iceland
Reykjavík, Iceland iStock

A proposed law banning circumcision in Iceland would, if passed, effectively declare that Jews and Muslims were unwelcome in the island nation, European rabbis claim, arguing that such a ban would constitute an assault on Jewish identity.

The bill to ban circumcision would impose a punishment of up to six years in prison for anyone found guilty of "removing sexual organs in whole or in part" of a minor. According to the bill's drafters, circumcision "violates the rights" of young boys.

Local media outlets and even American lawmakers have lobbied against the bill, which opponents say constitutes a major violation of religious freedom.

European Jewish leaders, including the Conference of European Rabbis, have castigated the ban, calling the threat to impose jail terms on parents circumcising their sons a direct challenge to their religion.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis, compared the proposed ban to a similar law passed by Nazi Germany.

"The Nazis enacted such a law in 1933 and we know how it ended," Rabbi Goldschmidt said at a recent conference in Iceland which had been organized by Protestant and Catholic European groups which have voiced support for the Jewish community.

The bill passed its first reading in parliament two months ago.

Rabbi Goldschmidt said that if passed, the ban would send the signal that Jews and Muslims were unwelcome in the country.

"This move is not only a violation of the basic human right to freedom of religion or belief, but a sign that people of Jewish or Muslim background are not welcome in Iceland.”