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FGM Debate Continues in Muslim Lands

Gatestone Institute 18.07.2013, by Irfan Al-Alawi

While overshadowed apparently by the general civil conflict over the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) regime in Egypt, the spreading problem of female genital mutilation (FGM) has recently shaken the land of the Nile.

Yet the mass upsurge against the tyrannical fundamentalism of the MB is related, however obscurely, to the protests against FGM.

Late in June, British media reported that Suhair Al-Ba’ta, an Egyptian girl aged 13, died during an FGM “operation.” She reportedly perished from blood loss while subjected to FGM in a village north of Cairo. The latest terrible “death by FGM” of a girl in early adolescence provoked widespread outrage at the practice. Disregarding public opinion, representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), defended FGM as “Islamic.”

FGM has been illegal in Egypt since 2007, after the death in an anesthesia overdose during the mutilation of a 12-year-old girl, Budour Ahmad Shaker. The Egyptian government previously attempted to suppress FGM in 1996, and to reinforce the injunction against it in 1997. Egyptian officials affirmed in 1997 that FGM was not justified by Islam, and were supported in condemning it by scholars from the Al-Azhar Supreme Council of Islamic Research, based in Al-Azhar, the preeminent university in Sunni Islam. The Al-Azhar authorities stated that cutting female sexual organs — even partially– has no foundation in Islam, is medically harmful, and should not be carried out.

Dr. Naglaa El-Adly, research director for Egypt’s National Council for Women, has argued that the Muslim Brotherhood used its influence to prevent enforcement of the laws against FGM. Dr. El-Adly, like other experts, asserts that FGM is an ancient pagan custom in the region, with no basis in Islam. She noted the existence of the problem among Egyptian Christians, and has called on media and religious leaders “to tell people it is not related to Islam or Christianity.”

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