By Alagie Manneh
A deputy imam at the central mosque of Bakau, Saikou Sonko, has weighed in on the FGM debate, saying that Islam accepts the practice.
Speaking to The Standard, Imam Sonko said female circumcision is not prohibited by Islam and those in doubt should seek knowledge about it before speaking.
Sonko said the only caution Islam made was the nature of the cutting and not its total ban and therefore it cannot be said to be prohibited by the religion.
Sonko added that circumcision in both male and female population has been a long standing tradition which has a social significance in that it is seen as an avenue to learn cultures and values of our societies. “It is unfortunate that these practices are on the decline, and with them a lot of decay in the social order and behavior of both young male and female children. The practice was some sort of a rite of passage where young boys and girls learn how to talk with manners, learn how to eat, how to sit, how to walk, and how to even have a successful marriage. In essence, you learn about character and modesty. The reason that many young people have drifted and gone astray is because they have no manners. Therefore, the circumcision of girls or women has really helped our society a lot in those days,” deputy Imam Sonko told The Standard.
He claimed that it was not difficult back then to distinguish between “those women who were circumcised and those who weren’t. Because the other learned about knowledge and good manners while the other did not. So, it became quite evident in their demeanor and actions. So, female circumcision is a learning curve for women, and a learning curve for humanity. What we observed is that the decay of the social order went spiral following the decline in female circumcision”.
Sonko also rebuked certain unnamed people very vocal today in their defense of FGM, saying they should have spoken out during the dictatorship when the law banning the practice was first introduced, if they are sincere.
“They were afraid,” he said. “What we believe is that they are now looking for material wealth and status, because the issue of FGM has been here for years,” he concluded.