Irish Muslim groups condemn cleric's comments advocating female circumcision

Everyone should respect the law banning female genital mutilation (FGM) and support the global campaign calling for an end to the practice, three Muslim groups have said.

The Irish Muslim Peace & Integration Council (IMPIC), the Al-Mustafa Islamic Centre Ireland and the Ifrah Foundation said FGM was a violation of human rights.

The groups joined in the criticism of remarks by an Irish Muslim cleric advocating female circumcision.

Dr Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland told RTÉ last week that female circumcision should be carried out if a doctor advised that it needed to be done.

"We see female circumcision in the same way we see male circumcision," Dr Selim said.

"It might be needed for one person and not another, and it has to be done by a doctor and practised in a safe environment," he said.

Dr Selim's comments came as Ifrah Ahmed, a survivor of the practice, launched #MeTooFGM, a worldwide social media campaign against FGM.

The 29-year-old, who was born in Somalia, said FGM is happening outside of developing countries, including reports of it occurring in the UK.

Ifrah Foundation founder Ms Ahmed, Ifrah Foundation board member Dr Chris Fitzpatrick and IMPIC chairman Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri met in Dublin on Monday to voice their opposition.

"There is no medical, religious or cultural justifications for FGM," they said.

"Muslim leaders and scholars categorically reject that the practice offers any benefits and considers it in direct contradiction to the basic tenets of Islam.

"FGM is associated with serious medical complications in young girls and women. It is also associated with complications relating to childbirth and is responsible for the deaths of mothers and babies in counties where it is practised."

The groups added: "[We] call on all Irish Muslims to respect the law in relation to FGM in Ireland and supports the global campaign to end FGM."

IMPIC and the Al-Mustafa Islamic Centre in Ireland are backing Ms Ahmed's global campaign.

Health Minister Simon Harris and Trinity College Dublin, where Dr Selim is a part-time language teacher were among those who have been critical of Dr Selim.

A spokesman for Trinity College Dublin said university teachers and students believed the practice was always wrong.

FGM comprises all procedures involving altering or injuring female genitalia for non-medical reasons and is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

It is estimated that at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM, according to the UN.

Girls aged 14 and younger represent 44 million of those who have been cut, most commonly in Gambia, Mauritania and Indonesia.

The procedure is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15, the UN protest organisers said.

It causes severe bleeding and health issues including cysts, infections, infertility and complications in childbirth.

The #MeToo movement began after claims of serious sexual misconduct surfaced in Hollywood allegedly involving producer Harvey Weinstein, which he denies.

Dr Ali Selim

- PA

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