Pro-Female Genital Mutilation Islamic Leader Tours UK Despite Uproar

Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, the head priest of the Shia Dawoodi Bohra community and a vocal advocate of Female Genital Mutilation, was granted a visit to the United Kingdom. He is scheduled for a talk in front of tens of thousands in London between July 29 to August 7.

Anti-FGM campaigners are petitioning the government to revoke Saifuddin’s visa until he publicly denounces his support of this centuries-old custom which harms millions of girls and women.

“Given he supports FGM, I don’t understand how he can be given a visa to visit the UK because it puts girls at risk. We are flabbergasted,” Saka Hakasi, former president of the Dawoodi Bohra Welfare Society, said.

Saifuddin has 1.2 million followers worldwide. Previously, Saifuddin’s office has issued letters to all his followers in nations wherein FGM practice is illegal, including the UK, to not engage with this. However, a year later, he said that there was a need for this to be done.

“It must be done. If it is a man, it can be done openly, and if it is a woman, it must be discreet. But the act must be done. Do you understand what I am saying? Let people say what they want…but Rasoolullah [Prophet Mohammed] has said it…Rasoolullah will never say anything against humanity. He has only spoken [of] what is beneficial…from the perspective [“haisiyat”] of the body and the soul. What do they say?…that this is harmful? Let them say it, we are not scared of anyone,” said Saifuddin in his speech.

According to UNICEF data, at least 200 million girls and women in 31 countries underwent FGM procedures.

FGM are procedures that remove wholly or partially the female external genitalia for non-medical reasons. UNICEF has disclosed that FGM violates the human rights of girls and women.

FGM is performed on Bohra’s girls aged six to nine years old. They called this practice “khatna” or “khafz,” wherein they cut or remove the clitoris of the female genitals. Also called female circumcision is considered a way to protect a girl or a woman’s virginity and purity.

However, the procedure has caused physical harm as well as emotional and mental scars that will affect their adult life, particularly their sex life.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act of 2003 states that performing FGM in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland is a criminal offense. Anyone guilty of this illegal act could face up to 14 years of imprisonment.

Considering the broad reach of followers of Saifuddin in the UK, one fears that his words can encourage others to implement FGM in their localities.

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