Once again, is female genital mutilation connected with Islam?

According to CBS in Detroit, Michelle Hoitenga, a state representative in Michigan, has introduced a bill (see it here) that in effect bans sharia law, although U.S. law already supersedes sharia law and the bill seems completely unnecessary and anti-Muslim.  The bill doesn’t specifically mention sharia law, but that’s clearly its aim:

A bill to limit the application and enforcement by a court, arbitrator, or administrative body of foreign laws that would impair constitutional rights; to provide for modification or voiding of certain contractual provisions or agreements that would result in a violation of constitutional rights; and to require a court, arbitrator, or administrative body to take certain actions to prevent violation of constitutional rights.

As used in this act “foreign law” means any law, legal  code, or system of a jurisdiction outside of any state or territory 5 of the United States, including, but not limited to, international  organizations and tribunals, and applied by that jurisdiction’s courts, administrative bodies, or other formal or informal tribunals. A court, arbitrator, administrative agency, or other  adjudicative, mediation, or enforcement authority shall not enforce  a foreign law if doing so would violate a right guaranteed by the 6 constitution of this state or of the United States.

A court, arbitrator, administrative agency, or other adjudicative, mediation, or enforcement authority shall not enforce a foreign law if doing so would violate a right guaranteed by the constitution of this state or of the United States.

According to Hoitenga, the bill was motivated by the recent case of female genital mutilation (FGM) practiced on several girls aged 6 to 8 by a Muslim doctor in Detroit. The doctor, Jumana Nagarwala, has been duly charged with a criminal offense:

The sponsor, Republican Rep. Michele Hoitenga of Manton, said in an email to House members this week that a Detroit-area doctor recently charged with performing genital mutilation on two young girls was “essentially practicing a fundamentalist version of Sharia law,” according to MLive.com.

Again, you can argue about whether sharia law promotes FGM, or even whether sharia law is oppressive, but there’s little doubt that many branches of Islam do promote FGM or even make it mandatory, and that sharia law is oppressive where applied though it is superseded by US law in our country.

The Huffington Post, however, argues that FGM is not an Islamic practice, and also that sharia law has been grossly misunderstood; this is part of PuffHo’s Regressive Leftist campaign to glorify Islam by hiding some of its shady practices. As always, this is because Muslims are considered People of Color and therefore oppressed.

HuffPo is right on one count: the bill is superfluous, prohibiting what is already prohibited. But it errs, deliberately, in saying that sharia law is innocuous and misunderstood:

Sharia law, a favorite bogeyman of anti-Muslim extremists, is the deeply misunderstood legal or philosophical code of Islam. It’s interpreted differently by Muslims across the world using an assortment of texts, including the Quran, the Sunnah and Hadiths.

Yes, sharia law is interpreted differently in different places, but in no place is it superior to the laws of Western democracies, and in many places sharia (which in most Muslim-majority countries has become part of state law) is oppressive, unfair, and ludicrously regressive. For instance, in many places sharia makes apostasy a capital crime, prohibits drinking, makes the testimony of a woman in court worth only half of a man’s (!), considers in judicial sentencing that a woman’s life is worth half of a man’s, and allows or even requires barbaric practices like beheading or the mutilation of hands or limbs. Yet, according to the 2013 Pew Survey of beliefs in Muslim-majority lands, support for sharia is widespread (note: countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran weren’t surveyed), with many suggesting that it be applied to non-Muslims. Here are some data I’ve shown before from that survey:

So yes, Michigan’s anti-sharia bill is superfluous, but support for sharia among Muslims is widespread. Even in Britain, Muslim support for sharia is strong: the National Secular Society reports a Policy Exchange Survey of British Muslims that showed this:

“There are relatively large levels of support among British Muslims for the implementation of elements of Sharia law,” Policy Exchange said.

43% said they supported “the introduction of Sharia Law” and just 22% were opposed. 16% of British Muslims “strongly support” the “introduction of aspects of Sharia law into Britain”.

35% of 18-24 year olds expressed support for “aspects” of sharia and nearly half of the over-55s supported some “provisions” of sharia.

Okay, but putting that aside, is FGM an Islamic practice, or does it have something to do with the faith? The accused doctor certainly thought so! As the Detroit News reported:

A Detroit emergency room physician charged with mutilating the genitalia of two 7-year-olds from Minnesota denied cutting the girls, saying she merely performed a religious procedure that involved removing and then burying skin in the ground.

Dr. Jumana Nagarwala’s lawyer offered the explanation Monday during a dramatic 90-minute court hearing in front of a standing-room-only crowd. The hearing ended with a federal magistrate judge ordering the Northville doctor jailed without bond while awaiting trial, the first of its kind in federal courts nationwide.

Dr. Nagarwala is clearly a Muslim:

Dr. Jumana Nagarwala (Photo: Henry Ford Health System)

We all know that Reza Aslan, another apologist for Islam, has also denied that FGM has anything to do with the religion, and PuffHo echoes his sentiments:

The practice [FGM] “has not been confined to a particular culture or religion,” according to the Female Genital Mutilation National Clinical Group, a United Kingdom-based charity working with women who have suffered FGM. “FGM has neither been mentioned in the Quran nor Sunnah.”

FGM existed long before Islam and it sadly persists today as a cultural tradition that traverses religious lines. Qasim Rashid, visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal School of Islamic Studies

FGM is practiced in many Muslim-majority countries as well as in some Christian-majority countries, according to Politifact, citing a UNICEF report. And some Muslim-majority countries, such as Yemen and Iraq, have low rates of FGM.

Qasim Rashid, visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal School of Islamic Studies, wrote in a HuffPost blog post in 2014 that FGM predates Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

“FGM existed long before Islam and it sadly persists today as a cultural tradition that traverses religious lines,” Rashid wrote. “For example, in Ethiopia, Muslims, Christians, and Jews have all practiced FGM — though no faith endorses the act.”

And because there is no solid theological basis for FGM in Islam, Rashid said, the only people today who believe FGM is a part of Islam are “Islamophobes and extremists [who ascribe to Islam].”

Well, I can think of no better refutation of this nonsense than Heather Hastie’s post from 2014, “Reza Aslan: Lying for Islam on FGM.” Read it if you encounter people who disavow a connection between Islam and FGM, for Heather simply demolishes that claim with data. Here’s a small excerpt:

In Sunni Islam, there are four schools of jurisprudence that express an opinion on the matter. Two of them, the Hanbali and Shafi’i schools, consider FGM obligatory, while the other two, the Hanafi and Maliki schools, recommend it. In addition, there have been several fatwas issued regarding FGM over the years, the majority of which favour it. (Fatwas are not compulsory, but devout Muslims consider them morally imperative.) For example, Fatwa 60314 includes statements that express the importance of FGM within Islam and dismiss the opinions of doctors.

The belief that FGM is an expression of faith if you are a good Muslim is widespread, insidious and promoted by religious leaders. Even in those Muslim countries where it has been banned, there is push-back by religious leaders. In Egypt for example, FGM was finally banned after several failed attempts in 2008. However, it is still being carried out outside hospitals and the Muslim Brotherhood has a campaign to get the law overturned. Mariz Tadros reported in May last year that “the Muslim Brotherhood have offered to circumcise women for a nominal fee as part of their community services”.

FGM apologists like Aslan and PuffHo could find out about this stuff if they wanted, but it goes against their pro-Muslim narrative. Talk about “alternative truths”!  These are not a monopoly of the Right.

63 Comments

  1. Posted April 24, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Whether FGM is Islamic or not is a sideshow.

    It’s clear that that bastion of morality, Islam, has, though given a baker’s dozen centuries, utterly failed to display its moral superiority by something so trivial as ending the practice.

    Look — it’s not hard. Just don’t carve up little girls. This is entry-level morality, not even something that requires divine levels of insight and compassion.

    And for a moral code to have failed so spectacularly at preventing people from doing something that, by any reasonable perspective, they should have been horrified at the mere thought of doing in the first place…

    …well, what’s the point in pretending that Islam is morally defensible at all?

    Cheers,

    b&

    P.S. Not only Islam! Those Christian societies that practice FGM demonstrate it’s every bit as much a failure. And not only those two religions…. b&

    • Luis Servin
      Posted April 24, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      In my opinion any moral code that calls for genital mutilation of children, regardless of gender and of amount of damage done, has failed spectacularly. Yet we seldom show the same outrage in the case of circumcision, which Sharia law also calls for.

      • Posted April 24, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        Male circumcision has related origins to FGM, but it is otherwise not like it. Cutting off the head of the penis would be the equivalent.

        • peter
          Posted April 24, 2017 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

          I was going to write a long story explaining why circumcision is morally reprehensible and that there is no need to downplay this disgusting practice when talking about FGM.

          Instead I am going to post a link to Christopher Hitchens doing a much better job.

          • Posted April 25, 2017 at 7:46 am | Permalink

            Thanks! I was going to write something similar. This speaks for me.

            • jeffery
              Posted April 25, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

              Male circumcision has nowhere near the effect on one’s ability to enjoy the sex act as does FGM; studies also appear to show that it decreases the risk of penile cancer and can help reduce the transmission of HIV- that being said, these facts make it all the more disgusting to me when someone tries to make FGM sound more “acceptable” by equating them.

              • peter
                Posted April 25, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

                That may be, it is still an infringement of the basic human rights of the child to decide for themselves if they want to alter their body based on cultural or religious grounds. This is what FGM and circumcision have in common. I agree that the impact of FGM is greater, but that does not mean circumcision is a benign practice.

                Furthermore there is a lot of evidence that shows that circumcisions dulls the sensation. This is especially the case with circumcision where the frenulum is also removed (jewish orthodox). I suggest you look them up, be especially care full in your selection because there are a lot of studies that seem to have a conflict of interest on both sides.

                Also like Hitchens explains it was Rabbi Maimonides that has said “the purpose of circumcision is to weaken the male organ, without preventing the functions necessary to reproduction, but reducing pleasure and desire.” (http://intactwiki.org/wiki/Moses_Maimonides)

                An excerpt from an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics

                “Every infant has a right to bodily integrity. Removing healthy tissue from an infant is only permissible if there is an immediate medical indication. In the case of infant male circumcision there is no evidence of an immediate need to perform the procedure”

                “Male circumcision also violates four core human rights documents-the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention Against Torture.”

                “Social norm theory predicts that once the circumcision rate falls below a critical value, the social norms that currently distort our perception of the practice will dissolve and rates will quickly fall.”

                Svoboda JS Circumcision of male infants as a human rights violation Journal of Medical Ethics 2013;39:469-474.

  2. Glenn
    Posted April 24, 2017 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Frightening.

  3. eric
    Posted April 24, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    [the doctor] denied cutting the girls, saying she merely performed a religious procedure that involved removing and then burying skin in the ground.

    That defense is a non-sequitur. Whether it’s religious or not has nothing to do with whether it’s cutting or not. And it’s cutting. The exact same way male circumcision is cutting, regardless of whether the parents and child and doctor are Jewish or not.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted April 24, 2017 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      Male circumcision is compulsory in Islam, and is proscribed by scripture (unlike FGM).

      • stephen
        Posted April 24, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        Should that be “prescribed”,Heather?

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted April 24, 2017 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

          Ha ha – well, it’s definitely not proscribed! Let me get this right – male circumcision IS a REQUIREMENT in ISLAM. Cheers Stephen!

  4. GBJames
    Posted April 24, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    The only thing I’m puzzled by is why a law like that proposed in Michigan would be needed. This kind of dreadful behavior is already illegal. Did I miss something?

    • eric
      Posted April 24, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Nope, you didn’t miss anything. The law is useless. Other countries’ laws are already non-binding except for the case of treaties. And in those cases, Article 6 of the Constitution would trump this Michigan state law anyway.

    • Posted April 24, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      I mentioned that the new law proposed is superfluous.

    • rickflick
      Posted April 24, 2017 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      I think the point of the law is to draw attention to the issue.

      • Craw
        Posted April 24, 2017 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

        Agree.
        Wasn’t there approval expresssed here about a grandstanding law in Texas recently? Both are irksome really.

    • Craw
      Posted April 24, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      Does the bit about arbiters matter? People do go to religious arbitration. Might this impinge on that?

      • GBJames
        Posted April 24, 2017 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think religious arbitration has any standing in law. If it does, I need to move.

        • Craw
          Posted April 24, 2017 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

          Of course it does. You and I agree to be bound by an arbitration. After the ruling if you don’t comply I can sue you and will in most cases win. You agreed to the arbitration. You’ll only win if the arbitration ruled something illegal, like becoming my slave. But if it,s a dispute over a hotel bill you will lose. This for any arbiter using whatever set of rules.
          So maybe the law would change that in the case of arbitration based on religious rules.

          • GBJames
            Posted April 24, 2017 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

            Sorry, but you and I can’t arbitrate whether I’ve poisoned my neighbor with arsenic. We could be in complete agreement in a settlement, but that would be quite irrelevant.

            If something is against the law then religious or any other kind of arbitration outside of a court would have no standing.

            If a law against FGM is needed (which I doubt, but maybe it is true) then fine. Outlaw FGM. I find it hard to believe that mutilating a child isn’t already illegal.

        • eric
          Posted April 24, 2017 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

          If two parties agree in contract to settle disputes by arbitration, then AFAIK nothing prevents them from choosing an arbitrator who is a priest or who decides to arbitrate according to some religious text. IOW it would have the same standing in law as a non-religious arbitration, as long as both parties were agreeing to abide by that particular arbitrator’s decision. You can pick a lawyer to do the arbitration. Or a clown. Or a priest. Its up to the two parties.

          Which leads to two thoughts. One – talk to your business partners about arbitration ideas long before the stuff hits the fan. Maybe even identify some potential arbitrators at the outset. Two – be careful what you sign. 🙂

          • GBJames
            Posted April 24, 2017 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

            You are talking about civil disputes. I don’t think that physical violence against a child is a civil matter any more than murder can be negotiated by arbitrators. We’re talking (I assume) about felonies here not civil disputes.

            • Craw
              Posted April 25, 2017 at 8:34 am | Permalink

              Civil law is law. Arbitration settlements can be enforced legally if the arbitration was agreed to be binding. The question was, does this law affect anything or is it superfluous. If it affects the enforcement of civil arbitration then it’s not superfluous.

              Example: Right now if we go to an imam to settle my complaint (and agree to his arbitration) that you snipped my beard and he rules you owe me 5 grand because beards are sacred, and refuse to hear your testimony because you are an atheist then that is currently enforceable. Would it be under this new law? That is the question I asked. I do not know.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 24, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Is it “connected”? Sure. Islam doesn’t compel female genital mutilation, and FGM occurs in cultures even without it. But Islam provides a shoddy excuse for performing FGM to those who fear women’s sexuality and wish to strip the pleasure in it from them.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted April 24, 2017 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      I’ve been writing a post about this for a few days. Hopefully it will be up later today, or maybe tomorrow. (As so often happens, my body is unable to keep up with what I want to write.)

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 24, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Would not Detroit save themselves a lot of trouble and ink for Huff, if they simply passed a law saying that FGM is against the law and will be punished with many years in the crowbar hotel. Also just to cover the religious aspects, another law that clearly states, no religious practice will have standing over state or federal law. That last one probably would not fly in the current Supreme Court.

    • Posted April 24, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Also just to cover the religious aspects, another law that clearly states, no religious practice will have standing over state or federal law.

      We’ve had one of those since 1791.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted April 24, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        Assume you are speaking of the bill of rights and frankly, just having it does little good. Therefore, we have the state attempting to legislate this despicable practice out of their state. And what I am saying is, instead of getting into the religious muck, just outlaw FGM. To the republicans and the religious, they think the first Amendment means religion has priority over everything.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted April 24, 2017 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

          FGM is already illegal under federal law. Most states also have laws specifically banning it. Those that don’t have relied on child protection laws in the past. I suppose those states that allow things for religious or cultural reasons might have difficulty getting a conviction.

          But you’re right – just have a law against FGM. That’s how most Western countries have handled it. Most also include a provision that you can’t take a child out of the country to have it done. That’s how most get around the law because that’s so hard to police. Also, young girls are rarely in a position to take their parents to court.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted April 24, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

            Yes, I remember several years ago, even on a television show, Law and Order, they did a show on this very subject. They flew a doctor into the states, NYC, and he was going to perform the procedure on a young girl. The father was American and I think he ended up killing the doctor to prevent the thing. High Drama.

            Anyway, making a law against the Sharia Law seems the wrong way to go.

    • sensorrhea
      Posted April 24, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      Graybar Hotel?

      • Randy schenck
        Posted April 24, 2017 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        I think Graybar hotel was a term used by some to hide the fact of their incarceration. Crowbar hotel does not hide anything, just a term for jail house or prison.

  7. Posted April 24, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I’d like to see polling data conditional on income and socioeconomic status.

    Just by eying that data it seems that those views correlate with economic development and I’m sure they correlate with household income too.

    Odious views are often a byproduct of bad education and low socio-economic status. Causal data is necessary. If regressive views are because of poverty, relative or absolute, then maybe orthodox Islam isn’t the problem but the environment it resides in. There are many hypotheses to consider, you only espouse a single one. Superstitious views are commonplace in the developing world and peter out as countries become richer and more developed over time which suggests religion isn’t the culprit, but a convenient medium to display ones odious views that are the product of poorness. Evidence of this is from many religious scientists and white collar professionals who are by and large liberals in their beliefs.

    I know a PhD in engineering who is a Muslim. I had no idea he was even religious until I asked him. He is the most rational person I know when it comes to logical reasoning. He is married to a Christian woman. These instances are far from uncommon.

    • Posted April 24, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      But you miss the point.

      Islam (and, to be sure, most other religions) makes grandiose claims to ultimate moral authority, often to the point of denying even the possibility of moral virtue absent its theology.

      And, yet, it’s so spectacularly failed at something so simple and painfully obvious as not cutting up little girls.

      No further evidence is necessary to demonstrate just how utterly rotten Islam is to the core, how devoid of moral respectability.

      Yes, there’re lots of good people who happen to be Muslim (or Christian or whatever) — but, clearly, they are so despite their religions, and to their personal credit.

      But society will never outgrow such idiocy as FGM until we get past this insane notion that only incorporeal imaginary aliens can tell us how to act as adults. And in no small part because it’s the priests who speak on behalf of the aliens, and thereby drape themselves in unquestionable authority….

      Cheers,

      b&

      >

      • Posted April 24, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

        That’s true but there’s a stark difference between Islam in the scripture (which isn’t clearly defined) and Islam that people practice. Which is often a complex mixture of cultural norms which are the product of the past and the contents of the scripture and the sect the person is supposedly attached to. In practice people cherry pick from their religions, this often means that they choose what confirms their initial beliefs or confirms to their cultural expectation. Since I believe we should judge the morality of an idea by its consequences I’m not entirely sure than Islam as practiced on aggregate is a bad thing – we have no natural experiments on its causal nature. Especially if the nature of its practice is due to the environment its practiced in. Islam isn’t rotten to the core, there are bad things and good things in the scripture. That’s a simple fact. If you follow the bad things you will behave badly, if you follow the good you’ll behave respectably. The probability of each is dependent on how wretched your situation is.

        If someone lays the alphabet by your feet, you can use that to derive any moral creed you want. The one you choose is going to be heavily influenced by your environment. The same goes for Islam.

        I think we should condone the conditions that lead to harsh interpretations and therefore actions rather than the arrangement of letters themselves. Which is why you won’t find a backwards Muslim in the upper/middle classes etc.

        Another point to make is that most Muslims can’t read the Quran. They don’t understand archaic Arabic. So it doesn’t make much sense to condemn the scripture if most people aren’t even reading it anyway. I don’t know a single Muslim who reads the Quran from my friends. Most Muslims only abstain from eating pork and follow other simple rules as well as celebrating Eid etc.

        Just removing Islam won’t remove the harsh conditions that led to the regressive Islam practiced in the third world nations. It will still leave the lingering superstition and irrationality we were all subject to when we came out of the womb.

        I think if you look at history you will see that even in atheistic societies such as communist China wickedness was commonplace when times were tough. It seems simple and unscientific to say that all bad things that Muslims do must be caused by Islam.

        • Posted April 24, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

          What about the honor killings, FGM, forced hijab-wearing, and so on in countries like the US, UK, and Canada.

          And for crying out loud, WHO HAS SAID that all bad things Muslims do must be caused by Islam? Nobody here, I think. You’re attacking a straw man.

        • Posted April 24, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

          That’s true but there’s a stark difference between Islam in the scripture (which isn’t clearly defined) and Islam that people practice.

          So?

          Both make the same grandiose claims to being the only true source of morality — and both are demonstrably horrifically corrupted.

          Islam isn’t rotten to the core, there are bad things and good things in the scripture.

          But that’s what it means to be rotten to the core. Hitler kissed babies, after all. Even were Muhammad otherwise a saint — and he certainly wasn’t — just one incident of childhood sexual slavery or one little war of religious conquest would be far more than enough to demonstrate that, no, he’s not somebody you should be emulating.

          Another point to make is that most Muslims can’t read the Quran. They don’t understand archaic Arabic. So it doesn’t make much sense to condemn the scripture if most people aren’t even reading it anyway.

          On the contrary. If, as you assert, most Muslims are ignorant of the foundations of their faith, then there’s no cause for anybody — you included — to worry about the perceived ill consequences of helping them understand that they draw their morality not from that barbaric superstition but from society. But by holding the superstition beyond reproach, you provide cover for those who are faithful to it….

          I think if you look at history you will see that even in atheistic societies such as communist China [….]

          Et tu, tu coque?

          Cheers,

          b&

          >

    • eric
      Posted April 24, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      If poverty leads people to religious belief and that religious belief leads people to cut their children, then yes religious belief has lead people to cut their children.

      Consider this analogy: a wife beater claims they were abused as a kid. And it turns out to be true. Do we put them in jail for the spousal-beating it, or their parents? Them, right? It may be true that bad socioeconomic outcomes lead to adoption of religious beliefs which in turn leads to odious theologically-based ethical principles, which itself in turn leads to odious conduct. But if a religion is preaching the odious conduct, then religion is to blame for the message.

      In such a case, we can strive to fix the underlying socioeconomic driver while at the same time recognizing that the guy in the pulpit telling parents to cut their kids, and the parents who go along with what he says, are proximately to blame.

    • Posted April 24, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, but there are certain acts that can come only from adherence to religion, whether or not that’s caused by poverty. Killing of apostates is one, killing of those who draw Muhammad is another, and of course Sunnis woudn’t go after Shiites, and vice versa, if there were no Islam, for there would be no corresponding division.

      Of course religiosity is increased by poverty (Marx recognized that), but to suggest that there would be murder of cartoonists without Islam, or killing of apostates without Islam because of OTHER REASONS, is ludicrous.

      • Posted April 24, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

        They are indeed proximately to blame but if you want a pragmatic solution you should fix the fundamental causes of poverty. Regarding you analogy. Yes what you say is a second best solution. But you should in my eyes prevent the source and avoid having to jail anyone in the first place. If we know what the source is and we can target it confidently I see no reason to not mitigate the fundamental cause and kill two birds with one stone. And my point is more nuanced it is not just religious belief it is harsh religious belief caused by poverty. There can be peaceful religious beliefs too.

        • Posted April 24, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

          Umm. . . you must be pretty unaware of the fact that I’ve suggested that a good solution is to do the very thing you suggest. See this video, for instance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58cBKlAWeWE

          HOWEVER, there is some good to be had by criticizing religion itself, and the success of people like Dawkins (see his “Converts Corner”) in deconverting the faithful attests to the direct approach as well. There’s no reason not to work on the fundamental causes of religion while criticizing religion at the same time.

        • eric
          Posted April 24, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

          if you want a pragmatic solution you should fix the fundamental causes of poverty

          We can, and probably should, address both proximate (religion) and ultimate (poverty) causes at the same time. In part because poverty is hard to fix. And in part because there isn’t a lock-step relationship between them; even if we were successful at eliminating poverty, this would not eliminate all the violently religious people in the world. To take an infamous example, Osama bin Ladin came from one of the wealthiest (non-Saud) families in Saudi Arabia. Wikipedia tells me the family is worth $2 Billion. So it’s clearly not the case that IFF socioeconomic poverty, then violent religion.

        • Posted April 24, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

          The evidence is pretty clear that poverty is not what drives people to become religious terrorists. Most are engineers, lawyers, other professionals, or their children. Poverty is a problem which leads to increased religiosity in societies, but in individuals, poverty is not the driving factor that results in fanaticism and terrorism.

          • Jim Smith
            Posted April 25, 2017 at 1:06 am | Permalink

            “Poverty is a problem which leads to increased religiosity in societies, but in individuals, poverty is not the driving factor that results in fanaticism and terrorism”

            Yeah, an increase in religiosity has absolutely
            no correlation to fanaticism and terrorism.

            Good catch. Or fumble.

            • Posted April 28, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

              I’m not sure what your point is here; or what the sentence you’ve quoted has to do with the sentence you’ve written. Perhaps you could elaborate.

    • Posted April 24, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      A definite causal arrow can be drawn, tracing bad education back to an orthodox Islam that bars girls from school entirely, and sends boys to madrassas where all they do is read that idiotic, hateful book of theirs.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted April 24, 2017 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      The community in Detroit where this has been happening is a wealthy, educated one. They come from a sect of Islam in India that is known for having high-caste members. Those performing the FGM are fully-qualified doctors.

      However, it is true that those with experience of living in a secular democracy are less likely to choose Sharia law. It would also be a mistake to dismiss all members of Muslim-majority countries as backward in some way though. That is not the case.

  8. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted April 24, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Two basic principles:

    1) The fact that the practice goes way back before Islam doesn’t mean anything.

    Belief in eternal hell originates mainly in Zoroastrianism (Hindu and Buddhist hells are usually temporary), but that doesn’t let Christian hell-fire preachers off the hook. They embraced it. You bought it- it’s now yours.

    2) It’s possible that even if a majority of Muslims don’t do FGM, it is still the case that a majority of FGM practitioners are Islam, which should still be a matter of some concern.

    Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism all forbid FGM, though members of Beta Israel do it. FGM was introduced in Indonesia and Malaysia with the arrival of Muslim missionaries in the 13th century. Currently, the Muslim Brotherhood is actively working to decriminalize it in Egypt!!

    Huffington Post would do better to show photos of cats in hijabs. (There are several on the web, but I’m reluctant to post one here 🙂 )

  9. Posted April 24, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    the procedure — which typically involves the surgical removal of a female’s clitoris or labia, sometimes for religious or cultural reasons.

    But most times just for shits & giggles? WTF.

  10. Christopher Bonds
    Posted April 24, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    If I were to consider applying for citizenship to another country, or simply wanted to visit it, I would expect to know and follow its laws.

  11. Posted April 24, 2017 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I saw a few years ago when visiting my parents in Montreal a medical clinic which said that it did *male* (emphasis added) circumcision. I reflected on that sign and thought how it was sad that they seemingly had to say so.

    (For those who know Montreal, it was near the Guy-Concordia Metro, I think on Cote-Des-Neiges or Guy itself.)

    • rickflick
      Posted April 24, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Male circumcision is condoned in the West. It’s a Western cultural tradition. It might be a good idea to pass a law against subjecting children from that too. Adult’s should be able to decide for themselves what body parts to keep or lop off. At least it would give a sense of being even handed.

      • colnago80
        Posted April 24, 2017 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        50 years or more ago, male circumcision was ubiquitous in the US with a rate approaching 90%. Today it is less then 50% and falling.

    • Luis Servin
      Posted April 24, 2017 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      I don’t fully understand your post. Do you think it’s sad they had to advertise that because people would assume they did both male and female circumcision, or do you thing it’s sad that they still carried out male circumcision? Both are pretty sad, IMO.

  12. nicky
    Posted April 24, 2017 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    There are different forms of FGM, in it’s mildest form it only involves the removal of the ‘hood’, which is anatomically equivalent to male circumcision, which I cannot get very worked up about. However, this kind of FGM is not very common, to put it mildly. In most, virtually all, cases at least part of the clitoris is removed, and often much more.
    It is told that Mohammed, when asked about FGM, said it was permitted, but one should not go ‘too far’. I don’t know how apocryphal this is.
    It is also true that FGM is not only practiced by Muslims. As true that it is mainly practiced by Muslims.
    Obviously the aim is to prevent sexual pleasure, which fits in well with the Islamic ‘modesty for females’. It is one of the most horrible forms of female supression, immo. Much worse than Hijab or Burka.
    In other words, FGM is not specifically Islamic, but it is definitely part of Islamic culture and aims, and it is definitely a crime against humanity.
    It should be eradicated by all means at our disposal. Be it a superfluous law which might enhance enforcement or convincing imams that ‘not going too far’ means ‘only the hood’. Anything that might work.

  13. Posted April 24, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I’m from muslim majority country, Tajikistan in Central Asia, but because my country of birth is strictly secular (former member of Soviet Union) we don’t have FGM practices. I first herd of FGM when I came to US. But I think the only reason people don’t practice it in my country of birth is that people never read Koran, Hadiths or any text. They are like American Christians. This clearly shows that beliefs cause the actions.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 24, 2017 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, if you look at the Pew results quoted in PCC’s post, in south-east Europe / central Asia only a fairly small minority of Muslims think sharia should be law in their country.

      It probably reflects the general social climate of the region.

      (My Bosnian tenants were Muslim the way most New Zealanders are Christian – nominally, but not very noticeably).

      cr

  14. Posted April 25, 2017 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    I’m similarly convinced that the primary motivation for most genital mutilation is religious. I have read of other reasons as well, but they all seem to originate with some social custom which is directed by religious belief.

    In the US mutilation of males is said to be done for “health reasons”…but we all know (nudge nudge, wink wink) that the real reason is religion and cultural tradition. You just HAVE to have it done because everyone else does it. You don’t want the child to be DIFFERENT do you?

    …and absolutely YES, male circumcision is every bit the same as female circumcision. It is mutilation plain and simple. The fact that most will simply dismiss it as a trifle is because it’s so widely accepted in western culture. Hitchens is correct. Everyone agrees that cutting a young woman is disgusting child abuse, but removing part of a male baby’s penis is perfectly normal and acceptable to the majority.

    • nicky
      Posted April 25, 2017 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      “…and absolutely YES, male circumcision is every bit the same as female circumcision. It is mutilation plain and simple,”
      No, it is not, since female ‘circumcision’ virtually always involves much more than removal of the foreskin.It involves removal of the clitoris (anatomically equivalent to removal of the penis) and often labia minora. There sinmply is no equivalence. Removing a toe nail is not equivalent to amputating a foot.
      The aims, albeit often informed by religion in both, is also different. FGM is an instrument of supression of women, female sexuality in particular. Male circumcision is nothing of the kind.

  15. Asiff
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    No need to confound the issues by associating Islamic female circumcision with FGM which are two different things with different effects. Female circumcision involves removing the skin (prepuce) around the clitoris, which enhances, not curbs women’s sexuality. This procedure allows the clitoris to be exposed for greater stimulation since it does away with the prepuce which serves as an obstacle to sexual satisfaction. The clitoral prepuce also harbours germs such as the cancer-causing HPV. Thus female circumcision as required by Islam prevents urinary tract Infections and transmission of cancer-causing HPV to husbands through oral sex. Even Western women are going for it under the name hoodectomy. See: http://asiffhussein.com/2015/04/02/female-circumcision-the-hidden-truth/


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  1. […] h/t: Raymond Riches (Al Jazeera, Indonesia), Jerry Coyne (Huffington Post), Jerry Piven (Mother Jones) See also today’s post by Jerry Coyne at Why Evolution is True, ‘Once again, is female genital mutilation connected with Islam?’ […]

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