(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
By Candice Malcolm
‘Muslims in Calgary’ has an article on its website defending the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).
In the undated article entitled Female Circumcision in Islam, author Asiff Hussein claims both that FGM is “an Islamic practice” and that it “brings untold benefits to women.”
Hussein discusses the 2009 ruling by Malaysia’s National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs that FGM was mandatory for Muslim women, noting that he “could not find anything objectionable in it.”
He states that more “barbaric forms of FGM practised in sub-Saharan Africa” are counter to Shariah Law, but advocates for what he calls a “relatively minor” procedure that cuts the skin covering the clitoris.
The article cites several hadiths — writings that supplement the Qur’an in providing religious guidance for Muslims — that advocate for FGM to demonstrate the historic and Islamic basis for the practice.
Hussein makes a case for the supposed health benefits, while also admitting the practice reduces what he calls “the excessive sexual arousal in women.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) condemns all forms of FGM, which is practiced today in more than 30 countries and has been carried out on 200 million girls and women worldwide.
According to WHO guidelines, “there are no known health benefits” to FGM. The WHO unequivocally states that “female genital mutilation is a violation of human rights (and it) must never be performed.”
Hussein’s article is also full of racist and anti-Semitic statements.
He blames “the Jews” for leading the criticism against FGM, and claims the “Jewish controlled media” is responsible for the negative attitude towards this practice.
The website features an opinion disclaimer, stating the views in the article are that of the individual author, “solely meant for education, discussion and debate, not for any illegal purpose.” The disclaimer also states that the author is not affiliated with the ‘Muslims in Calgary’ website.
Asiff Hussein is a Sri Lankan writer, and it is unclear why his controversial article is posted on the ‘Muslims in Calgary’ website.
According to Lisa Daftari, founder of the Foreign Desk news site, Hussein posted the same article on Facebook in May 2016. Facebook removed the post, however, stating “it violated our Community Standards.”
The website ‘Muslims in Calgary’ (MuslimsinCalgary.ca) is privately registered and while it does not have a big following on social media, it states its objective is to “provide leadership and guidance to Muslims in Calgary.”
The professionally designed site is full of controversial articles presenting a strict and fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.
The site provides contact information for several Islamic centres and organizations, as well as for “community sheikhs.” One of these listed sheikhs, Hacene bin Mohamed, told the Sun that his name was added without consultation, and he assumes the same applies to others listed.
“It is good that they are referring people to official imams for help,” he said in an email, “but at the same time we are worried about the accuracy of the information.”
“I do believe the owners live in Calgary,” he continued, “however, it seems that they do not want to disclose their identity.”
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