AFRICA/EGYPT - Coptic bishop Anba Moussa: no religious argument can justify the horrendous custom of female genital mutilation

Monday, 5 July 2021 middle east   oriental churches   women  

Cairo (Agenzia Fides) - In the Holy Bible there is not a single verse that can be used as a pretext to justify the practice of female genital mutilation, of which countless girls are still victims in many African countries, including Egypt. The umpteenth clear refusal of attempts to justify with ethical-religious arguments or even with references to the Sacred Texts this violent and devastating custom has recently been carried out by Anba Moussa, bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in charge of coordinating pastoral activities aimed at the younger generations. The speech was published by Anba Moussa in the context of the public and media debate also promoted in the newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi approved amendments to the Egyptian Penal Code that increase penalties at the end of April provided for those who persist in promoting and implementing the practice of female genital mutilation, penalties that particularly severely affect doctors and paramedics involved in this phenomenon. The Coptic Orthodox Church and also the other Churches and ecclesial communities - recalls Anba Moussa - have always unanimously rejected the so-called "female circumcision", considering it an ancient custom that cannot have any connection with Sacred Scripture and Christian doctrine, which recognizes as good every reality created by God, and therefore cannot justify with theological, moral or spiritual arguments the elimination of organs and members of the human body. The male and female genital organs - underlines the Coptic Orthodox Bishop - have a fundamental role in the emotional and sexual life of men and women, oriented according to the design of Creation, and any attempt to justify their elimination or surgical manipulation with pseudo arguments is in itself also a lack of respect for the gratuitous love with which God created man and woman.
Listing various arguments against the practice of genital mutilation, Anba Moussa recalls that it can also cause fatal bleeding, and that girl victims often suffer a "terrifying psychological shock" that can affect them for life. The bishop also stigmatizes the arguments of those who present this ferocious custom as an antidote against perverse sexual practices, recalling the Gospel passages in which Jesus himself repeats that impurities and evil intentions come from the hearts of men (cf. Mk 7: 21-22) . In his speech, Anba Moussa also reiterates the opportunity of a "massive media campaign" to support above all the rural populations in the growing rejection of "this harmful practice". Already a few years ago (see Fides, 26/7/2017) he launched an intense awareness campaign among his faithful against the practice of infibulation and female genital mutilation, which continues to be widespread even among Coptic Christians in different areas of Upper Egypt. At the time, Patriarch Tawadros II urged all Coptic communities to raise awareness about the dangers and serious physical and psychological consequences of this practice. Warning signs against infibulation have been posted near church premises where baptism is administered. The historical origins of the practice of infibulation are linked to widespread practices in ancient Egypt. That is why its name in Arabic corresponds to the expression "pharaonic infibulation" (al khitan al fira'uni). Female infibulation and circumcision are not mentioned in the Qur'an, and Islam as such does not require any female genital mutilation. The practice of infibulation, although prohibited by the Coptic Church, survives in the Christian communities of Upper Egypt and the Horn of Africa, in Eritrea and Ethiopia (but also in Niger) as a heritage of tribal customs prior to the beginning of the apostolic preaching. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 5/7/2021)