CAIRO: Minya governor General Fouad Saad El-Din’s announcement about the public March to take place on Wednesday to commemorate the death of 12-year-old Bodour, represents a “stand against female genital mutilation (FGM ) , Hafez Abu Saeda, director of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) told The Daily Star Egypt.
The march is to be held on the same street where Bodour, the widely publicized victim of a circumcision operation, used to live.
According to Al-Masry Al-Youm the march will begin infront of the National Democratic Party’s (NDP) office in Minya and will be attended by members of civil society, human rights organizations and Muslim and Christian religious figures.
Abu Saeda told The Daily Star Egypt that strict action must be taken to eliminate FGM in Egypt, adding that the practice which has been adopted in Egypt hundreds of years acquires its dominance through “some religious voices which Abu Saeda described as being “against government efforts in this issue.
“Bodour will not be the last one to die because of this operation, Abu Saeda said, “as we still continue to hear the opinions of people who believe that this process is accepted by religion.
According to Abu Saeda, people who believe circumcision has a religious justification are “using twisted methods to turn the case into a religious issue.
Soheir Mohamed, a domestic helper from Sharqeya, told The Daily Star Egypt in a previous interview that she is planning to have her daughters circumcised.
“Some people say it is halal [religiously correct] and some say it is haram [religiously incorrect], but I will carry out the circumcision operation for my children anyway because my family members and people in my village tell me I have to do it, she said.
“My husband tells me that only Jewish people do not circumcise their women, she added.
A fatwa issued by Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa on June 23 had clearly stated that FGM is forbidden or haram in Islam.
Sheikh Mohmoud Ashour, former deputy of Al Azhar and member of the Islamic Research Center also told The Daily Star Egypt in a previous interview that circumcision is a “habit that has no religious base.
Islam does not call for circumcision and any hadith (sayings by the Prophet Mohammed PBUH) related to the issue “is considered very weak and may not be abided by, Ashour said.
Father Paula Narooz, the patron of the Sameen church of Sharm El-Sheikh, agrees with Ashour, explaining that female circumcision is forbidden in Christianity as well.
“There’s not a single verse in the Bible advocating female circumcision, Father Narooz told The Daily Star Egypt in a previous interview. “God, in Genesis 17:10 of the Old Testament tells Abraham that ‘Every man child among you shall be circumcised.’ It never mentions the word woman .
While some Christians in Upper Egypt still believe in circumcision, Father Narooz believes that this is due to “lack of Christian cultural knowledge that leads these families to follow the inherited norms of their neighbors.
Health Minister Hatem Al-Gabali also issued a decree, a few days after the death of Bodour banning every doctor and member of the medical profession, in public or private establishments, from carrying out clitoridectomies.
However, according to Abu Saeda, the law will only be implemented in public hospitals and clinics.
“The law is not expected to make a big change, as the issue is related to the mentality of the people and their cultural heritage, Abu Saeda said.
He believes the solution lies in the hands of “religious figures who should play a bigger role in creating awareness about the disastrous effects of FGM on society clarifying that the practice is not related to religion.
According to a demographic and health survey carried out by USAID in 2000, 98 percent of Egyptian girls are subjected to circumcision. While 75 percent of adult women in the survey said they supported genital mutilation operations, the number was down from 82 percent, in an earlier survey carried out in 1995..