Netizen 24 IRL: Muslim paediatricians hit back at academic for advocating female circumcision

Diposting oleh On 12.45

Muslim paediatricians hit back at academic for advocating female circumcision

Two Muslim paediatricians working in Irish hospitals have condemned the “illegal” and “mutilating” practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) and criticised a Muslim academic for advocating the circumcision of young girls.

Dr Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland in Clonskeagh said last week he supported the practice of female circumcision but that he was “not an advocate of female genital mutilation”.

“We see female circumcision in the same way we see male circumcision,” Dr Selim told RTÉ’s Prime Time. “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.”

“It is not an obligation, but it should be allowed by law if needed and a medical doctor can decide if it is needed or not.”

Female circumcision, also termed female genital mutilation (FGM), is illegal under the Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Act 2012.

It is estimated that 5,790 girls and women living in Ireland have experienced FGM and some 2,700 girls here may be at risk of being subjected to it.

Professor Farhana Sharif, a consultant paediatrician at the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar, said there is absolutely no health benefit to FGM which causes “long-term physi cal, emotional and psychological consequences”.

Prof Sharif, who is originally from Pakistan but has lived in Ireland for 27 years, described FGM as a “mutilating procedure” with “no medical justification to it”.

“It’s not acceptable and as a medical professional I would not see any doctor recommend this procedure. It is banned in Ireland and is absolutely unacceptable to promote or advocate for this practice.”

Dr Rizwan Khan, a consultant paediatrician at University Maternity Hospital Limerick, said there is no difference between female circumcision and FGM and warned that the affects of the practice could negatively impact on a woman’s entire life.

“We always talk about it as a medical issue but we’re also talking about a young female who may become a wife and a mother in the future. It can cause prolonged bleeding but also leads to severe psychological and mental trauma, reduced self-esteem and problems in any future relationship.”

Dr Khan said Dr Selim’s views are not representative of the Irish Muslim community. “The big risk is if someone writes a headline saying a leading Muslim scholar has said this it can appear as if the whole Muslim population of Ireland is supporting him. As a medical expert and a Muslim I certainly do not agree with it.”

‘Barbaric practice’

The Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland (ICCI), where Dr Selim works, released a statement on Friday condemning FGM as “a crime” and “a barbaric practice”. However, it has emerged that the centre has changed its statement a number of times in recent days. The initial statement said female circumcision “must be recommended and defined by a professional medical doctor and only be carried out when prescribed.”

It added that “cosmetic surgeries, if needed, should not be confused with female genital mutilation”.

An updated Facebook post over the weekend wrote that FGM is “a crime and a vio lation to women’s rights” and “a barbaric practice” but redacted the reference to female circumcision.

“It is a practice carried out based on cultural religious and non-religious convictions, with no association with religion whatsoever”.

“We should carry on raising awareness until we bring it to zero practice all over the world, an accomplishment, which we believe we will rejoice soon.”

On Monday a third statement was posted on the ICCI website calling on all people to “uphold the law of the land”.

“Female genital mutilation is a crime and any perpetrator of thi s heinous act should and will be judged in accordance with the law,” it wrote, adding that the practice comes from a “tribal pre-Islamic era”. The initial two statements have been removed from the ICCI Facebook page.

A statement from Trinity College where Dr Selim teaches Arabic language classes also condemned the practice. Trinity professor of obstetrics Dr Deirdre Murphy described FGM and female circumcision as “synonymous terms” and said “any doctor who suggests female circumcision is medically indicated is deluding themselves.”

Salome Mbugua, president of Akidwa, the network of migrant women in Ireland, said she was “shocked” and “horrified” by Dr Selim’s comments which she said “undermines our efforts and support of many organisations including the Iri sh Government in combatting FGM.

A statement from Akidwa added that Dr Selim’s comments were “irresponsible, reckless and dangerous”.

The Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council, which is led by Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, the iman of the the Al-Mustafa Mosque in Blanchardstown, Dublin, said the issue of FGM is one for the “welfare and safety of young women here at home and abroad”.

The council called on Dr Selim to resign from his “privileged position” in the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland and from his role as a lecturer in Trinity College Dublin where he teachers Arabic.

The council said: “Those who hold such damaging and harmful views that affect the lives of millions in very tangible ways should not be normalised or offered shelter by their presence in our public institutions and bodies.”

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