The Muslim Brotherhood Does Not Support Female Circumcision

The Muslim Brotherhood Does Not Support Female Circumcision

The opposition of some Muslim Brotherhood MPs to the latest law criminalizing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) should not be misinterpreted as to suggest the Muslim Brotherhood supports FGM.


For most MBs, FGM is a hateful and brutal tradition that needs to be eradicated from Egyptian society. None of the MB leaders I have personally interviewed endorses this habit either in their own life or for others.


It should be noted that the Muslim Brotherhood has not released an official statement about that issue, which refutes any allegations that the movement actually supports it.


It is true that some MB parliamentarians strongly opposed the decision, which is a small part of the controversial Child Law passed by the PA last week which triggered angry reactions from all political currents. But their arguments differed.


There were those who were against the complete banning of FGM without exceptions, explaining this to be problematic since there are cases when there is a medical need for it.


In fact, according to specialized doctors, there does exist certain abnormal cases in which surgery is really needed to remove the offending appendage not mutilating the normal genital organs, and the law has indeed set that condition for resorting to FGM.


Very few, however, mentioned “preserving women virtue” as part of their argument, which is totally rejected by committed Muslims and the vast majority of MB members.


Such opinions only reflect the cultural dimension behind this habit. Those MPs are representatives of the community they live in, and they voice its cultural and social background. They either belong to rural areas or to Upper Egypt, which is known for its deeply rooted traditions of oppressing women.


The Muslim Brotherhood as the largest moderate Islamist organization in the world would not tolerate injustice and violation of women’s body, particularly that there is no religious script that mandates female circumcision. But even if it is permissible (though the most commonly cited Hadith in that regard is weak), it must be banned because it involves harm; and there is a juristic rule in Islam that there should be no harm, nor reciprocating harm.


We have textual evidence that prophet Mohamed (pbuh) circumcised his male nephews (male circumcision is medically proved to be hygienic) , but in contrast we have no corresponding information regarding any such procedure for anyone of the prophet’s five daughters.


One of the MB leaders I spoke to was Dr. Abdul Moneim Abu El Fotouh, MB executive bureau member, and the secretary general of the Arab Doctors Union. He voiced the previous opinion. He preferred to describe FGM as a “merely social habit that contradicts with Islamic morals.”


“We are for penalizing any abuse of the human body, and FGM is one form of bodily abuse,” he told Ikhwanweb. “We embrace the tolerant religion of Islam which gives sanctity to the human body and forbids any assault on it.”


Abu El Fotouh also said that resorting to surgeries is acceptable only in the few cases when there is a medical prerequisite. “But only specialized doctors can decide that,” he said.    


Specialized doctors have proved that female circumcision has undeniable far-reaching negative effects on women’s health, as well as on their social, sexual and psychological well-being. It can cause death through hemorrhaging and later complications during childbirth. It also carries risks of infection, urinary tract problems, and mental trauma.


Now FGM will be punishable by a jail term of between three months and two years or a fine of 1.000-5,000 Egyptian pounds (190-940 dollars.)