By Bristol Political
Taking a girl of approximately five or six years old, pinning her to the ground, grabbing a razor blade, opening her legs and cutting out her clitoris or labia. Something so mind-bogglingly horrifying and nihilistically cruel that it’s scarcely possible to believe it happens at all, but it does. And this week, the government released its first detailed statistical study into the practice in the UK. Reviewing the data, a very clear pattern emerges.
The government recorded about 5,700 cases in the UK in 2015/16 (the government estimates the true prevalence to be about 140,000). Of the recorded cases (where the victim’s country of birth was known):
73% were born in an overwhelmingly Muslim-majority country;
25% were born in a country with approx 50% Muslim population, and;
2% were born in other places, mostly the UK.
Quite a striking striking finding. Now as we know, FGM predates Islam, and FGM does also happen outside of Islamic communities. However, the fact that anti-semitism predated the Nazis, and to this day happens in all sorts of non-Nazi places, does not exculpate Nazi ideology from the charge of promoting anti-semitism. So does Islam promote FGM?
To find out, I looked at the four main schools of jurisprudence in Sunni Islam (about 80% of the world’s Muslims are Sunni) and put together this table:
A fairly clean sweep, hardly surprising considering the practice is clearly endorsed by the Prophet in several Hadith. Given the findings above, it’s also not surprising that many Muslim-majority countries have near-universal rates of FGM, (86% in Indonesia, 91% in Egypt, 98% in Somalia, 96% in Guinea, 93% in Djibouti, 93% in Mali, 93% of Muslim girls in Malaysia, to name a few).
So let’s be honest about what the problem is here. The problem is not extremism, it isn’t Islamism, and it isn’t jihadism. It’s Islam.
The problem isn’t extremism, because – as we’ve seen above – this isn’t the lunatic fringe we’re talking about. This is the absolute dead-centre mainstream interpretation of the faith.
The problem isn’t Islamism, because there is nothing political about this. This has nothing to do with the desire to impose Islam on society politically. This is private citizens, in their private homes, doing what they want to do with their free time.
The problem isn’t jihadism, because this has nothing to do with waging holy war against the infidel – in fact, there are no infidels involved at all. The people involved are usually the girl’s close female family members, usually her mother, aunts, grandmothers and sometimes a specialist to wield the razor blade.
To deal with a problem, you first have to be honest about what the problem is. When it comes to FGM, often the problem is Islam. Mainstream Islam. Any time we ignore the facts, obfuscate, engage in “whataboutery”, shout the word “islamophobia”, we make ourselves part of the problem.
So let’s not let our cultural sensitivities make us fellow travellers with those who would mutilate little girls. Let’s call out the problem for what it is – Islam. It’s important.