Hot on the heels of Egyptian presidential candidate Mohammed Mursi's declaration that “The Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path and death in the name of Allah is our goal...Today we can establish Sharia law because our nation will acquire well-being only with Islam and Sharia," Egyptian lawmakers are again making news, and none of it is promising.
According to the Egypt Independent, MP Nasser al-Shaker of the Salafi-led Nour Party is citing notable Islamic scholars in justifying female genital mutilation (FGM) as a part of the "prophetic" Sunnah (a holy work of Islam).
For those unfamiliar with Egyptian politics-- the Salafi party is even more fundamentalist than the Muslim Brotherhood, and they control nearly 24% of Egypt's parliament. These are the people who try to live their lives in the example of the earliest Muslims, and their marks on the world include Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Regarding FGM, MP Shaker reportedly remarked that former first lady Suzanne Mubarak was the driving force behind banning it, and, as everyone is well aware, the Mubaraks are long since persona non grata in Egypt.
Randa Fakhr Eddin of the Cairo Coalition Against Female Genital Mutilation replied to Shaker’s statements, saying there is no consensus on the law by senior scholars or Islamists, and that it was rejected in the 1990s as being a cultural habit rather than a religious practice.
The rejection didn't seem to have much influence, however, since it is not only ultra-conservative Salafis who are involved in the practice.
In fact, the whole issue began after the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party started a charity initiative in the city of Minya, where they were accused of performing the wicked deed (they deny the allegations).
Female genital mutilation is widely practiced in Egypt and Sudan, along with many other African countries. While most Arab and Islamic countries technically view it as a crime, there is rarely any intervention in the matter--the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population conducted a study in 2003, where they reported that 94.6% of married women had undergone FGM, and 69.1% of those women agreed to have the procedure performed on their daughters.
The dangerous practice was outlawed in Egypt in 2007, after a 12-year old girl died as the result of the $9 procedure. While it is sometimes performed by doctors, in the rural areas-- where it is more often performed-- a local midwife of barber can be called upon to operate.
Is this what democracy looks like?