Saturday 14 December 2019

Trinity professor calls for teacher who condoned female circumcision to be dismissed

Dr Ali Selim Photo: Tom Burke
Dr Ali Selim Photo: Tom Burke

Shona Murray

An associate professor at Trinity College Dublin says he will hand back his title to the university if it does not terminate the contract of language teacher Ali Selim.

Mr Selim said he condoned female circumcision in "certain" circumstances, even though he insisted he was against female genital mutilation (FGM).

Campaigners who work to educate communities in Africa and the Midde East on the devastating effects of the practice are outraged he made such a distinction.

They believe FGM and female circumcision equate to the same thing.

FGM can lead to long-term damage and even death.

Dr Ronan Collins, from Trinity College, said Dr Selim, who also works at the Clonskeagh Islamic Cultural Centre, should be asked to resign "as his views are at odds with the university's mission and ethos".

"If not, the university should explore what should be done, with its full executive board, to have his contract ended.

"I will be handing back my academic title of clinical associate professor if I feel the university's response is not clear and firm in dealing with the matter," he told the Irish Independent.

Dr Selim is defending his comments, saying they were "misrepresented".

He says while he is opposed to FGM, he thinks there are some medical circumstances where "labiaplasty" may be advisable. "I'm saying the whole issue has to be placed on the table to decide," he said.

Dr Collins told the Irish Independent: "While I defend free speech and the university tradition of protecting same, these views are a calculated misogynistic attack on women's sexuality rather than an ignorant defence of the non-existent medical treatment of female circumcision.

"The very spectre of such a procedure is a frightening and threatening horror to many young women who may be living in oppressive religious circumstances whatever the domination."

A strongly worded statement from Trinity's director of public affairs and communications Tom Molloy dissociated the university from Dr Selim's comments, saying the institution "utterly condemns female genital mutilation in all circumstances".

FGM has been illegal in Ireland since 2012.

Irish Independent

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