Detroit — An Islamic group is pushing a local mosque to denounce female genital mutilation amid a widening conspiracy involving members of the sect and the torture of girls.
The American Islamic Forum for Democracy also wants the Anjuman-e-Najmi mosque in Farmington Hills to investigate if other members are helping commit crimes against girls and women following the arrest of Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, who is the first person charged nationwide in federal court with female genital mutilation.
The mosque serves members of the Dawoodi Bohra, a small Muslim sect from India that was linked to a mutilation scandal in Australia two years ago.
Mosque leaders should turn in any other participants to FBI and Homeland Security Investigations agents, dismantle an underground network facilitating female genital mutilation and commit to fighting the controversial procedure, according to a Thursday letter addressed to the mosque by Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, president and founder of the Islamic forum.
“By doing so, you would be expressing your solidarity with the brave women and men from within the Bohra Muslim community who have stood against this cruel practice and who have committed themselves to lives of true mercy and compassion,” Jasser wrote.
In an interview Tuesday, Jasser said he has not received a response to the letter.
There was no immediate comment from a mosque spokesman Tuesday.
Jasser, whose human-rights group is based in Arizona, wants mosque leaders to condemn female genital mutilation worldwide and go beyond a 2016 edict that commanded members to follow state and federal laws barring the procedure, also known as “khatna.”
“We hope that you will revisit this recommendation and put out an unequivocal condemnation of all ‘khatna’ around the world as immoral and un-Islamic,” Jasser wrote in the letter to mosque President Janab Aamil Saheb.
The letter is the latest reaction from the broader Muslim community. Locally, Muslim leaders have condemned female genital mutilation.
“This is simply something that is not done and is found to be extremely repugnant,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “This is something that is overwhelmingly not acceptable amongst the mainstream Muslim community in America.”
Female genital mutilation is an internationally recognized violation of human rights.
Some members of the Dawoodi Bohra community who have spoken against the procedure said the surgery is performed to suppress female sexuality, reduce sexual pleasure and curb promiscuity, according to court records.
The procedure is most common in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, along with migrants from those regions, says the World Health Organization.
Worldwide, an estimated 140 million women and girls have undergone the procedure, according to the World Health Organization. More than 3 million girls in Africa undergo the procedure each year.
The procedure has been illegal in the U.S. since 1996 and there are no medical benefits for girls and women, according to the World Health Organization.
Nagarwala is accused of mutilating the genitalia of two 7-year-old girls who were brought from Minnesota to Metro Detroit for the controversial procedure.
She has denied cutting the girls, saying she merely performed a religious procedure that involved removing and then burying skin in the ground.
Nagarwala, 44, a Henry Ford Health System emergency room physician from Northville, is accused of performing the procedure at a Livonia clinic.
The clinic is owned by Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, 52, who has served as treasurer and a leader of the Farmington Hills mosque, according to the Anjuman-e-Najmi website.
Attar and his wife, Farida, are charged with conspiracy to commit female genital mutilation and aiding and abetting female genital mutilation.
The couple are scheduled to appear in federal court at 1 p.m. Wednesday, when a judge could release them on bond.
Mutilation ban introduced
Michigan would join at least 24 other states prohibiting female genital mutilation under proposed state legislation announced Wednesday. Two state Senate bills would make the controversial procedure a 15-year felony. Federal laws banned the procedure in 1996.