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Thursday 18 July 2019

Trinity distances itself from Muslim lecturer in FGM row

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

Ralph Riegel

Trinity College Dublin (TCD)has distanced itself from one of its Muslim lecturers who has advocated female genital mutilation (FGM).

Last week, Dr Ali Selim said in an RTÉ interview that he supported the practice in certain circumstances.

But TCD said it "utterly condemns" the practice, with Trinity's Professor of Obstetrics Prof Deirdre Murphy adding that anyone who believed it was medically valid was "deluding themselves".

The university also described Dr Selim as a "part-time language teacher ... employed on an hourly basis to teach Arabic".

Irish Muslim centres also backed calls for Dr Selim's resignation over the controversy.

Dr Selim said: "I am not an advocate of FGM, but I am an advocate of female circumcision. We see female circumcision in the same way that we see male circumcision.

"It might be needed for one person and not another - and it has to be done by a doctor and practised in a safe environment."

However, two other Muslim leaders, Shayk Dr Umar al-Qadri and Ifrah Ahmed, warned that the position of anyone who failed to condemn the UN-outlawed practice was untenable.

Dr al-Qadri called for the resignation of Dr Selim from the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland, Clonskeagh Mosque and TCD.

"The issue of FGM is one of the welfare and safety of young women here at home and abroad," he said. "The practice is associated with numerous serious medical complications and represents a highly toxic attitude towards women in general. This makes Dr Selim's comments from his privileged position even more damaging and dangerous. We support calls for his resignation.

"Those who hold such damaging and harmful views that affect the lives of millions in a very tangible way should not be normalised or offered shelter by their presence in our public institutions and bodies."

Dr al-Qadri, who is chairman of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council (IMPIC), said it was clear Dr Selim's position was untenable.

"FGM is recognised by the UN as a violation of human rights. Performing or procuring the practice is a criminal offence. There are no medical, religious or cultural justifications for FGM.

"Muslim leaders and scholars categorically reject that the practice offers any benefits and considers it in direct contradiction to the basic tenets of Islam.

"The IMPIC and the Al-Mustafa Islamic Centre Ireland call on all Irish Muslims to respect the law in relation to FGM in Ireland and support the global campaign to end FGM."

Meanwhile, former Master of the Coombe University Hospital Prof Chris Fitzpatrick said Dr Selim's views on female circumcision were "medically incorrect and highly dangerous".

Irish Independent

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