Charges filed last week against a Northville doctor who allegedly engaged in female genital mutilation were met with both shock and concern among Muslims throughout southeastern Michigan. The thought of a doctor using her position to inflict trauma upon young girls is far beyond the pale of the mainstream practice of American Muslims and Muslim doctors, who constitute about 20 percent of medical doctors in the United States.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations reaffirmed its long held position on Feb. 6, the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, that FGM is against Islamic beliefs. Furthermore, as a member of the Michigan Muslim Community Council Imams Committee, which comprises religious scholars and prayer leaders throughout the state, I can attest that its members do not sanction the removal of genitalia, which also contravenes American law.
Female genital mutilation is a phenomenon that is unfortunately still widely performed in certain portions of the world, primarily informed by cultural taboos. In sections of Africa, for instance, Animist, Christian and Muslim girls continue to be physically and emotionally scarred for life by this practice.
We cannot attest to the veracity of the allegations against Dr. Jumana Nagarwala. She will have the opportunity in court to defend herself against the charges. What we can say is that female genital mutilation has no place here or anywhere else among any cultural group — including Muslim Americans — and that we stand firmly against it.
Dawud Walid, executive director
Council on American-Islamic Relations