THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA) — Two leaders of the youth division of the Dutch ruling party called for a ban on non-medical circumcision of boys.
Tom Leijte, the vice president of the JOVD youth movement of the VVD ruling party, and JOVD senior board member Matthijs van de Burgwal made the plea in an op-ed Wednesday in the Trouw daily newspaper.
The article, “High Time to Ban Circumcision of Underage Boys,” cites the 1993 banning of female genital mutilation.
“Religion in the Netherlands cannot serve as an argument for maiming people for life,” the authors write. “It is high time that, following the banning of circumcision of girls, that circumcision of boys under 18 also be forbidden.”
The VVD, or People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, is a center-right party also known as Holland’s liberal party. Its youth department, JOVD, was founded in 1949. Prime Minister Mark Rutte launched his political career heading JOVD from 1988-1991.
Rabbi Yanki Jacobs and Daniel Ascher of the Netherlands Chabad on Campus organization called on the authors to resign for abandoning the party’s liberal values.
“We are afraid of the anti-liberal argumentation of the Liberals,” they said in a statement. “We are seeing a process of ongoing regression among Liberals.”
Ritual circumcision of underage boys increasingly has come under attack in Scandinavia and northern Europe, both by left-wing secularists as well as right-wingers who fear the influence of immigration from Muslim countries.
The Royal Dutch Medical Association called for banning non-medical circumcision of boys in 2010, arguing that it introduced unnecessary risks and violated the rights of underage patients.
A Jewish ritual circumcision, or brit milah, takes place eight days after the boy is born. Muslim circumcisions of boys also occur later in life but typically before the boy turns 10.
In 2012, a German court in Cologne ruled that ritual circumcision of minors amounted to a criminal act. The ruling was overturned but triggered temporary bans in Austria and Switzerland.
Since then, several political parties in Norway, Sweden and Finland have voted in favor of banning the practice.