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Robert Spencer: Michigan FGM Trial Could Be Test Case for Whether Religious Freedom Overrides Duty to Obey Other Laws

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CNN reported last Wednesday that “two Michigan doctors and a medical office manager were indicted Wednesday by a Detroit grand jury in the first federal female genital mutilation case in the United States.” In an audacious move, Mary Chartier, the attorney for one of the doctors, Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, is basing her defense upon “Islamophobia.”

Chartier said: “I do believe that the government does not fully understand the religious practices of Dr. Attar and Dr. Attar’s religion, and I think that’s why we are in this courthouse today, and what we’ll be fighting over for the next few months.”

Indeed: the government is likely clueless as to the Islamic justifications for female genital mutilation. But the key point here is that she is apparently basing her defense upon the Muslim identity of the defendants. In this, Chartier is getting right to the heart of the matter: apparently she intends to argue that female genital mutilation (contrary to constantly repeated establishment media myth) is justified in Islam, and that therefore Dr. Attar was just exercising his freedom of religion.

If that is really what she intends to do, this will become a test case for the spread of Sharia practices in the U.S.: either Muslims will be allowed to violate existing U.S. laws under the rubric of the freedom of religion, or they will be called upon to obey U.S. laws even when those laws conflict with the teachings of Islam. If the court rules for the latter, the U.S. will have a chance to continue to exist as a free society. If the court rules for the former, it will be opening the door to all manner of jihad activity and Sharia practices that violate laws regarding equality of rights and equality of access to services, and no one will be able to say a word against the spread of Sharia in the U.S.

Chartier also said: “They have a religious belief to practice their religion. And they are Muslims and they’re being under attack because of it. I believe that they are being persecuted because of their religious beliefs and I do not make that allegation lightly.”

No, they’re “being under attack” for mutilating girls’ genitals. But Chartier is right: female genital mutilation is indeed sanctioned in Islam. A manual of Islamic law certified by Cairo’s al-Azhar as conforming to the “practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community” says this: “Circumcision is obligatory (for every male and female) (by cutting off the piece of skin on the glans of the penis of the male, but circumcision of the female is by cutting out the bazr ‘clitoris’ [this is called khufaadh ‘female circumcision’]).” — ‘Umdat al-Salik e4.3, translated by Mark Durie, The Third Choice, p. 64

Why is it obligatory? Because Muhammad is held to have said so: “Abu al- Malih ibn Usama’s father relates that the Prophet said: ‘Circumcision is a law for men and a preservation of honour for women.’” — Ahmad Ibn Hanbal 5:75

“Narrated Umm Atiyyah al-Ansariyyah: A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to her: ‘Do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband.’” — Abu Dawud 41:5251

“Do not cut severely,” but not “Do not cut.”

That’s why it is so common around the world. A Muslim cleric in Russia said that “all women should be circumcised.” A Muslim cleric in India likewise urged that it be done. A Muslim cleric in Australia said that Islamic law permitted the practice. A leading U.S. Muslim jurist from the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) said it was an “honor” in Islam. A marabout — a Muslim holy man — was arrested in France for having it done on his daughters. In the UK, there were 5,500 cases of FGM in 2016 alone. It is commonly claimed to be an East African problem, but 93% of Muslim women in Malaysia have suffered this procedure, and it is common in Indonesia. In one province in Iran, 60% of the women have suffered FGM.

It is certain to become increasingly common in the United States. And if Mary Chartier succeeds, it will become legal, as a matter of freedom of religion. That’s why this case bears close watching: it could establish whether the freedom of religion overrides all obligation to obey other American laws. And that would truly open the floodgates for Sharia.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Iran. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.

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