Shaker Elsayed, the head imam of Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Virginia, said removing a young girl’s labia and clitoris is “the honorable thing to do” if it is “needed.” (Which it never is.)
Elsayed added that female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation (FGM), is sometimes necessary because it prevents young girls from becoming “hypersexually active.” He added that a doctor can tell if this is a step you need to take.
“This is something that a Muslim gynecologist can tell you if you need to or not… There used to be a lady who used to do this for women, or, I mean, young girls. She is expected to cut only the tip of the sexual sensitive part in the girl, so that she is not hypersexually active. This is the purpose.”
He made the comments in May, and they were brought to light by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) earlier this month.
Shaker Elsayed, Imam of Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque in Fairfax County, VA, Endorses FGM: It Prevents Girls from Becoming Hypersexually Active pic.twitter.com/DoMtvQHz9G
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) June 1, 2017
Elsayed is partially correct: cutting off the sensitive parts of the genitalia will keep girls from being hypersexual. It’ll also keep them from enjoying sex and disfigure them for life, but who cares? Not him.
The controversial imam said some inexperienced surgeons in Muslim countries can cut “more than needed,” and that it is “prohibited.” That, he admitted, could end up damaging “the sexual sensuality of the woman when she becomes an adult.”
“On the contrary, you see in societies where circumcision of girls is completely prohibited, hypersexuality takes over the entire society, and a woman is not satisfied with one person, or two, or three. This, God forbid, is now happening even in Muslim societies where they prohibit circumcision. They use a mistake in practice to prohibit the tradition, and they end up causing a lot of damage on the extreme side of the sexual life of the woman.”
What Elsayed said comes straight out of the old “oppression of women” handbook. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before, and it’s simply not true. The fact is that at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone FGM, and that process can be linked to problems in childbirth, maternal deaths, and more.
As UNICEF notes:
Other side effects include severe pain, hemorrhage, tetanus, infection, infertility, cysts and abscesses, urinary incontinence, and psychological and sexual problems.
I’m not the only one who is upset with Elsayed’s repulsive remarks. The mosque he leads issued a statement condemning his remarks and stating that FGM is “prohibited in Islam as well as the laws of the land.” Another imam who worked there resigned.
Elsayed’s beliefs about FGM aren’t just outdated nonsense. They are dangerous outdated nonsense and we need to hold him accountable for spreading them to unsuspecting families and their children.
***Update***: Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, the director of outreach at the mosque, has resigned from his position in the wake of this controversy.