Friday 14 December 2018

Alternative lecturer provided to students outraged by Trinity professor's FGM comments

Dr Ali Selim
Photo: RTE
Dr Ali Selim Photo: RTE
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

A different lecturer will teach Trinity students who were offended by their professor's comments on female circumcision, the college has confirmed.

The Dublin third-level institution revealed they received complaints from "a large number" of Dr Ali Selim's Arabic language students after he said that he thinks female circumcision should be allowed here on a case-by-case basis with a doctor's approval.

Tom Molloy, Trinity College's Director of Public Affairs and Communications, confirmed that offended students will now be able to continue their studies with an alternative lecturer.

He said in a statement released to Trinity News: "In response to complaints from a large number of Dr Ali Selim’s students, Trinity College Dublin will facilitate parallel Arabic language classes by a second teacher.

"This will ensure that students who have criticised Dr Selim in a letter to their head of school will have the option to take lessons and exams with a new teacher."

The World Health Organisation warns that female circumcision - also known as Female Genital Mutilation - "has no health benefits for girls and women."

Dr Ali Selim teaches Arabic in TCD. Photo: Tom Burke
Dr Ali Selim teaches Arabic in TCD. Photo: Tom Burke

FGM has been carried out on an estimated 200 million girls around the world, including nearly 6,000 in Ireland.

There was a backlash against Dr Selim when he appeared to be in favour of female circumcision, which involves the partial of total destruction of female genitalia for non-medical reasons and was made illegal here in 2012.

Speaking on Prime Time on RTE One earlier this month, he explained: "I am not an advocate of female genital mutilation, but of female circumcision.

"If we see female circumcision in the same way as male circumcision, it might be needed for one person and not another, it has to be determined by a doctor and practiced in a safe, medical environment.

"It's the same medical reasons that justify male circumcision, it's not an obligation but it should be allowed by law if needed and a medical doctor should be able to decide if it's needed."

Following widespread criticism from doctors, from other Islamic leaders and students, Dr Selim apologised for the "misunderstanding" last night.

Speaking on The Pat Kenny Show, Dr Selim said he "condemns FGM in the strongest terms".

"I admit that I caused confusion based on my misunderstanding of the term [circumcision] and I do apologise for this.

“I'm not a medical doctor. I'm not a native speaker of English either. My English is really good but definitely sometimes it lets me down.

"I was out of my comfort zone and I misunderstood the terms as the medical experts would use them.”

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