Egyptian human rights groups and female activists are alarmed at renewed parliamentary calls to revive the practice of female circumcision. They appeal to the authorities to stop advocating what was officially banned in 2007.
Recently a Salafi MP, a member of the second-largest party in the country’s parliament, Al Nour, which holds 28 per cent of seats, has urged to renew the practice saying notable Egyptian scholars justified it as part of the “prophetic” Sunnah [a holy work of Islam]. The politician has previously proposed a bill that would allow the practice, also known as female genital mutilation.
Egyptian media say MP al-Shaker remarked that former first lady Suzanne Mubarak was the driving force behind banning it and, as everyone is well aware, the Mubaraks are long since personae non grata in Egypt.
The call was immediately opposed by the Cairo Coalition Against Female Genital Mutilation, which said there is no consensus among senior scholars or Islamists as to whether it is a cultural habit rather than a religious practice.
The issue sparked heated debates as earlier in May the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) – the largest party in the parliament with 48 per cent of seats – was accused of launching a charity medical campaign for circumcision of girls in the southern Egyptian governorate of Minya.
According to news sites and social networking pages, including Facebook and Twitter, a mobile convoy is wandering the region performing the procedure and distributing pro-FGM propaganda.
A group of Egyptian medical and human rights organizations condemned the practice and submitted a communication to the attorney general, the head of the National Council for Women and the governor of Minya, demanding the FJP’s activities be stopped.
The FJP, however, has denied the reports. And Hussein Ibrahim, head of the party’s parliamentary bloc, told the People’s Assembly that the party did not sponsor any such campaigns.
Meanwhile, Mervat Tallawy, the head of the National Council for Women, said it will adopt an awareness campaign in various governorates in Egypt to address the grave consequences of female genital mutilation. It will appeal to citizens, especially women, “not to respond to calls for this illegal act, which violates the dignity and rights of women,” calling for lawmakers to “comply with the law and address such propaganda for free circumcision.”
Egypt officially banned female genital mutilation in 2007.