Reply to Hunter Palmer: Female genital cutting (FGC) — also known as female circumcision and female genital mutilation (FGM) — is widely practised in some Muslim countries but not in others; it predates Islam and is also practised by non-Muslims, especially in Africa. It is not mentioned in the Qur’an but is referred to in the hadith. Some scholars say it is obligatory, some say it is forbidden, while others shift the decision away from religion by suggesting it may be carried out for medical reasons (of which there are none). There are disputes too, among those who approve of it, about the amount of cutting that may be permitted or required.

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Former Middle East editor of the Guardian. Website: www.al-bab.com. Author of 'Arabs Without God'.

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