EGYPT: Authorities urged to end female genital mutilation

By Ramadan Al Sherbini, Correspondent

Cairo: Participants in a high-profile meeting on female genital mutilation (FGM) have urged the religious establishment to show a firm stance against the controversial practice.

"This wrong tradition would not be easily eliminated from society so long as the religious establishment has not staked out an unequivocal position on it," Amnah Nousseir, a professor of Islamic studies, said.

Muslim scholars from around the world are attending the meeting, sponsored by Egypt's Darul Ifta, a top authority responsible for passing Islamic edicts.

Mohammad Sayed Tantawi, the Grand Shaikh of Al Azhar told the conference that there was no firm evidence in the Quran and the Sunnah, which are the main sources of Islamic Sharia, that circumcision was obligatory for women.

"In Islam, circumcision is an obligation for men only," he added.

Mushira Khattab, the Secretary-General of the governmental National Council for Motherhood and Childhood, said, "Around a decade ago, circumcision was practised on 97 per cent of girls in Egypt. However, with the efforts made by the civil society and religious institutions, it has dropped to 50.3 per cent."

The official shocked the audience by revealing that 75 per cent of FGM practices in Egypt are performed by medical professionals.

"This practice must be stopped especially if doctors confirmed to us that it does no good to the woman's health," Yousuf Al Qaradawi, a famous cleric, said.

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