Outspoken Muslim scholar and imam Abdoulie Fatty has called for a massive national mobilisation for a private bill seeking to repeal the anti-FGM law.

The bill, introduced by Almamy Gibba of Foñi Kansala, is seeking to repeal the Women’s (Amendment) Act 2015. It was tabled for its first reading yesterday.

Some political and religious leaders are backing the bill to decriminalise female genital mutilation eight years after the practice was outlawed. The Supreme Islamic Council has since issued a fatwa condemning anyone who denounces the practice and calling for the government to reconsider the legislation.

However, women’s rights campaigners and civil society have denounced the proposal as ‘hugely regressive’.

Speaking to journalists yesterday, shortly after the bill was introduced, Imam Fatty, flanked by hundreds of supporters chanting ‘female circumcision is my religious belief, Gambia is not for sale’, said no Gambian mother or grandmother should be arrested or jailed for practicing female circumcision.

He urged all those who are against the ban to ensure that they engage their National Assembly members and convince them to vote for the amendment bill. “You should not take this as a joke because if you allow them to get away with this bill, they will come with new bills to paralyse Islam in this country,” he added. Commenting on the health aspect of FGM, Imam Fatty argued that Islam only allows female circumcision and not female genital mutilation.

“Many women went through it and they have no complication. Only yesterday I was in Bakoteh talking to an old woman who had undergone female circumcision and I asked her whether she had ever heard of anybody who died after being circumcised, but she said no,” Fatty added.

He said the Gambia can sign international protocols, but those protocols should not infringe on people’s religious beliefs and norms.

“The Gambia’s constitution should reign supreme over any other law or protocol. The West should stop imposing issues on us that would create instability in this country. We cannot allow them to arrest and jail our mothers and grandmothers for practicing their religiously given rights and cultural beliefs. So our stand is that the law should be repealed for peace to reign in Gambia,” he said.


Responding to critics accusing him of failing to do anything to stop the passing of the law during Jammeh’s era, Imam Fatty argued: “If I were in Kanilai, when Jammeh was declaring that he would have jailed me because I would have told him that the practice is in the Quran contrary to what he thought. But at that event Jammeh had asked who could show him where female circumcision is mentioned in the Quran, but no one rose up to challenge him.   He once did a similar act at State House where I was present. He had asked who could show him where ‘bastard’ is mentioned in the Quran and I told him it was there and before I could show him in his own Quran, he took it from me. He then told me that King Abdullah is a dancer, but I told him that King Abdullah he is referring to has not finished university and that we don’t take our religious beliefs from King Abdullah but from the Quran and Sunnah. Yahya Jammeh knows me, and I also know him very well.”

The President of the Female Lawyers Association (FLAG), Anna Njie, told journalists at the National Assembly yesterday that repealing the law will take the country backward.

“We have no authority to tell the National Assembly what to do, but we have rights reserved in the constitution to take legal action when certain fundamental rights are violated,” she said.

Source: The Standard

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