Shaker Elsayed, the lead Imam of the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va., is facing backlash after justifying female genital mutilation (FGM), the Washington Post reports.
During a lecture he was giving on child rearing, Elsayed is on video saying that “[Circumcision is] a sunna for the boys, and the honorable thing to do, if needed, for the girls. … There used to be a lady who used to do this for women, or, I mean, young girls. She is expected to cut only the tip of the sexual sensitive part in the girl, so that she is not hypersexually active. This is the purpose.”
FGM consists of “procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons” and has “no health benefits for girls and women,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
It can also cause “severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.” FGM has been declared a human rights violation of girls and women by the WHO.
Elsayed also warns that in the absence of FGM, “hypersexuality takes over the entire society, and a woman is not satisfied with one person, or two, or three. This, God forbid, is now happening even in Muslim societies where they prohibit circumcision.”
Elsayed faced an incredible amount of backlash, and rightly so, after his talk went viral. Shortly after, he disingenuously stated that he should have “avoided” his comments regarding hypersexuality and that he “takes it back.”
Although Islamic law does not mandate FGM and tolerates the most mild form of circumcision, FGM is pervasive in countries with large Muslim populations such as the Middle East. FGM is also becoming an issue in countries with growing Muslim populations, particularly in Europe.
Many were calling on Elsayed to be ousted, including proponents of Sharia law, such as Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour. She released a statement Monday commanding Dar al-Hijrah’s Board of Director’s “to immediately terminate Imam Shaker El Sayed’s contract” and that “we cannot and will not stand for any Imam or Muslim leader who endorses human rights abuses antithetical to our beautiful faith.”
In 2016, there were 5,700 new cases of female genital mutilation recorded in England. Of those 5,700 women and girls, 37 percent were born in Somalia, 90 percent were born in Africa and 43 FGM’s involved women and girls who were born in the U.K., the Guardian reports.
After receiving pressure to terminate Elsayed’s position as lead Imam, the Board of Director’s at Dar al-Hijrah has placed Elsayed on leave until further notice, according to Fox News. Ever since 9-11, the mosque “has sought for years to scrub its image, after it became the focus of public scrutiny and FBI investigations,” the Post reports. This specific mosque was a place of worship for 9-11 hijacker Anwar al Awlaki and Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal M. Hasan.