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Country outlaws male circumcision

Everyone has the right to believe in what they want, but the rights of children come above the right to believe.

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The draft law would impose a six-year prison term on anyone guilty of "removing part or all of the [child's] sexual organs", arguing the practice violates the child's rights.

Jewish and Muslim leaders however have called the bill an attack on religious freedom. Iceland would be the first European country to ban the procedure.

Freedom of belief

The country is thought to have roughly 250 Jewish citizens and around 1,500 Muslim citizens.

MP Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir of the Progressive Party, who introduced the bill at the start of the month, said: "We are talking about children's rights, not about freedom of belief.

"Everyone has the right to believe in what they want, but the rights of children come above the right to believe."

Iceland passed a law in 2005 banning female genital mutilation, and supporters of this move have compared it to that law.

Attack on Jews

If it passes its first reading, the draft law will go to a committee stage before it can come into effect.

The Nordic Jewish Communities issued a statement condemning the ban on "the most central rite" in their faith.

"You are about to attack Judaism in a way that concerns Jews all over the world," the open letter reads.

Jewish campaign group Milah UK stated that comparisons with female genital mutilation are unwarranted, given that in the case of male circumcision there is "no recognised long-term negative impact on the child".

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