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


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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  • Halal Bacon

    it is child abuse – but so are a lot of alleged muslim traditions

    • Mahou Shoujo

      There are no muslim traditions that are not abusive to someone, usually children.

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  • Freedom of religion still requires freedom of choice. If these victims were adults, perhaps this would fly. But the victims are minors and not even close to being adults (and therefore not capable of making a decision like this). That defense won’t work here if the jury has brains.

    • libertyluvur

      Unless they are willing to forgo sharia and honor our laws and Constitution, they should never be let in and if found living under sharia here then they need to be deported. We would have to live under sharia if we asked into their country…good for the goose..

    • Dan Knight

      It could easily fly … you keep forgetting that ‘child abuse’ is nothing more than an excuse for destroying fathers. … it was never meant to inconvenience the Leftist assault on civilization.

      PS – Happy Sunday btw.

  • libertyluvur

    Sharia is incompatible with our Constitution and the very reason during vetting we MUST find out if muslim’s wishing entry will forgo sharia for our laws. They’ll likely lie to get in but if found they are still doing those things sharia tells them, they’re OUT1 It was pointed out decades ago that if they can’t honor our laws and Constitution they should not be let in. We wouldn’t be let into their country unless we live under sharia…good for the goose thing.

  • Mike Wolff

    It’s butchery, mutilation and child abuse. Pure and simple. Just because it’s practised by another culture doesn’t make it right or acceptable. Making human sacrifices and burning witches were once considered acceptable, does that make them right? Political correctness is stifling any sensible debate, beacause the only two cultures involved are Muslim and black African, and liberals would be screaming “racism” and “Islamophobia” if the perpetrators were charged and convicted. However, France is not afraid to challenge the practice of FGM, and has brought more than 100 successful prosecutions, whereas more PC Britain – despite FGM being illegal for more than 30 years – has brought NONE.

  • Sgtsnuffy


  • Dan Knight

    Sanction child abuse and misogyny at once …

    How many actual freedoms – in how many billions of bedrooms – can the Libnazi’s stone in one blow?

    Libnazis hate hard won freedoms given by God and preserved by the blood of patriots …

  • Dennis

    Let us hope and expect that our courts, when the issue is decidedly finally, will come to the conclusion that FGM not only violates our laws protecting females from what we consider major abuse and permanent damage to the female anatomy, that has no reasonable basis in medical or religious fact, and that the states have a recognized interest in precluding that conduct and result which overrides what any religion may claim is what their religion allegedly promotes. Circumcision of men does not affect a man’s ability to be intimate, and is also thought to result in a safety cleansing action; it is an act that is required by those of the Jewish faith of the male to show his acceptance of their GOD. While our Constitution DOES protect a person’s right to practice his or her religious beliefs without interference from politics that would interfere with that right, we can only expect our courts to recognize that the states have a right to protect females from what we, here in our society, consider an “act of mutilation.” It would seem to me that FGM does not promote any better ability to believe in a GOD, nor has it been shown that their is a safety benefit from that act to the female; it is simply a way of reducing Mother Nature’s gift to women to enjoy the act of intimacy between the sexes and can be the rightful subject of State criminal laws.

    • The problem here might be the jury. Historically, prosecutor requests to have either the case moved or a jury empaneled elsewhere have almost never been honored. However, I do wonder if the prosecutor could make that request here, saying that the children are victims of the norms of the community and therefore cannot get an impartial judgment of facts within that community, and thus a request is filed to have the jury selection done in Saginaw or Lansing instead.

      • Dennis

        Although I recognize what you are saying, the Judge may first conclude that the issue is one on law, and that he has the right to rule against the defendant doctors, as a matter of the law, taking the issue away from any jury that might have a built in prejudice as a result of the influence on them of their Islamism. Secondly, I can only expect that the appellate courts will also recognize this as female mutilation and respect a state’s right to protect the female from such heinous conduct.

      • AjiSabaki

        The three were arrested in Livonia Michigan under federal law. I would be wary of it being tried in
        Hamtramck, Michigan (majority Muslim) or even Dearborn, Michigan. Livonia has only a tiny Muslim population.

        • IzlamIsTyranny

          We all know what verdict juries will be coming back with in Dearbornistan, Michigan. I’d imagine a muslum could get away w/killing the kafir al najjis in Dearbornistan or honor killings as long as its a jury trial by their muslum peers.

          • AjiSabaki

            The three were all indicted in a federal court located in Detroit. Juries for these courts come strictly from residents of Detroit. Dearborn residents have nothing at all to do with their trials.

  • Mahou Shoujo

    Freedom to practice one’s religion ends where another person’s clitoris begins. It is not freedom of religion to impose irreversible damage on another person in compliance with ignorant superstition and islam.

    • MarieBlue

      Should be “Freedom to practice one’s religion ends where another person’s body begins” as boys are subjected to circumcision on the daily with no repercussions.

      • Mahou Shoujo

        All things considered, male genital mutilation is not as physically or mentally destructive as female. In any event, those wishing to be disfigured, will have to wait until they are 18 years old before they can ask to have it done.

        • MarieBlue

          All things considered, you haven’t done any research on FGM vs MGM. There are 4 types of FGM and the type practiced in this news story is one of the least invasive. It was described as “a membrane” that was removed. Most likely a small piece of the clitoral hood (aka: foreskin). This type of FGM is less destructive than MGM which removes the entire foreskin and in the case of babies usually the frenulum as well. Many boys have complications from MGM. Approximately 8% of all circumcised boys experience meatal stenosis- a narrowing of the urethra due to scar tissue that requires additional surgery to correct. Buried penis, adhesions, loose circumcisions that need to be “redone”. Some complications don’t show up until puberty- too tight circumcisions that cause pain and sometimes tearing of the skin during sexual activity, extreme curvature of the penis, hair on the shaft. The typical circumcision that doesn’t have complications keratinizes the glans and causes a loss of sensation. Men who are circumcised are 4x more likely to experience ED. There are other complications up to and including death. Approximately 117 boys die every year in the US alone from complications due to infant circumcision.

        • Walter Fletcher

          Funny you think it’s not destructive to us as many men, myself included cannot enjoy sex the way we should. The doctor took too much skin when I was an infant that since puberty I have painfully tight erections and even rip at times during sex, it feels like a knife slicing me when this happens.

          • Mahou Shoujo

            At least you have something that has feeling. Consider talking to a surgeon.

    • Pathfinder0100

      This is true!!

  • Rog Stresman

    Just how contemptible can lawyers get: presumably this Mary Chartier is a white, Christian US citizen who has no shame or conscience in seeking to defend the perpetrators of a barabaric custom from the Dark Ages which leaves young girls mutilated and scarred for life. Despicable.

  • Mike Wolff

    What is truly staggering and unforgiveable is that FGM has been illegal in the US for 20 years, but only now is the first prosecution being sought for these crimes committed against young girls. In Britain, it’s 30 years without a prosecution – even though in 2015-2016, there were 5700 recorded cases. Time to ditch the political correctness and fear of causing offence to other “cultures”, and start prosecuting on a large scale.

    • FGM is hard to discover. There are generally 2 ways of finding a violation:

      1. Someone comes forward, many years after the fact, and possibly after the statute of limitations has expired.
      2. FGM is discovered to be happening while investigating a doctor for something completely unrelated.

      In abortion, Kermit Gosnell was nailed the latter way (he got the DEA’s attention, and their investigation turned up the abortion problems). In a few words—it’s hard to identify cases.

      • IzlamIsTyranny

        It’s possible someone working in a muslum medical office may drop the dime on the FGM activity.

  • pdxnag

    But it is my religious duty to kill apostates, and infidels * * * and to wage Jihad generally. If you don’t apply Sharia law then it is my religious duty to [ just guess ].

  • Blucross

    Felony for the parents and the cutter . Sympathy and understanding for the little girl.

  • Blucross

    Why have the feminist of America NOT protested and demonstrated ?

  • This lawyer better get ready for a libtard excommunication, because libs say this practice is NOT islam just like isis (that follows, to the letter, every tenet in the koran) is ‘not’ islam, lol!!

  • Mike Wolff

    Religious freedom? A French justice minister summed it up perfectly: “This mutilation has no foundation in any religion,
    philosophy, culture or sociology. It is a serious and violent abuse of a
    female. It cannot be justified in any way. FGM is a crime.”

    • solange9

      Sorry, but Muhammad did say that men as well as women should be circumcised. And you are right, it is a crime, especially since it is done without the permission of the victim, often by force and deceit.

  • I think that national laws always stand, at least in the USA, because an individual’s rights end where they infringe on another’s rights. For example, we have freedom of speech which became freedom of expression, and we have the freedom to use that right up until that expression becomes harmful to another’s person or property. The government has the responsibility to stop further damages, and the harmed also has the right to pursue a recovery for damages.

    We often hear that a woman has the right to do with her body as she pleases, and we also know that if somone harms her during her pregnancy she has the legal right to take the other person to court. If she deems the pregnancy to be her baby, the person could have additional charges against them because two persons would have been harmed. Once the baby is born, the child has it’s own rights under national law, and their rights should not be violated by others, including the parents.

    I have not researched the history of circumcision in the USA, but my understanding is that it was adopted under the guise that it was healthier while providing a ‘cover’ for Jew immigrating to the USA whether as refugees or otherwise, specifically starting in the time frame of WWII.

    Should parents be allowed to tattoo their child if they claim their religion makes it obligatory? I don’t think so! I would take the position that circumcision should not be permitted, whether female or male. Both damage/mutilate the child’s body without their consent. The laws of the land must protect all individuals, and with special regard to those who cannot make mature choices of their own.

    • gerald may

      Male circumcision is not the same as FGM. FGM is not female circumcision. The former cuts away outer skin without damaging the member, the latter mutilates the reproductive organ causing permanent damage and pain.

      • We are essentially on the same page I believe that male circumcision diminishes the feeling a man would normally have. I will grant you the rest on the female side as I’m not as knowledgable in that matter, other than have watched the procedure on YouTube and other sites as practiced by certain Muslim groups. My understanding from those videos was that the goals were to make women unable to receive pleasure during intercourse, and to reduce any drive for sex a woman might normally have had. This supposedly helps Muslim women to remain faithful in marriage. It’s simply and grotesquely done to keep women enslaved by robbing them of what God gave them at birth. To do such FGM is to insist that God made a mistake in His design, though Muslims would likely deny it.

        I also note that in some countries Muslim men claimed their women were sterile, but a later determination by non-Muslim doctors was that the men were engaging their women using the incorrect point for insertion. The anus will never be open for conception. Their men needed to be re-educated regarding intercourse.

      • Walter Fletcher

        It damaged me and many other men. Too much skin was taken when I was a infant that when puberty came around my skin would become so tight it is painful, not to mention I often get rips in the skin behind the head of my penis. It feels like a knife slicing me when this happens.

  • posidous

    There can only be one, repeat 1, set of laws in a country. America has adopted the constitution as our law, therefore NO OTHER can prevail. PERIOD end of discussion.

  • gia

    No freedom of religion should allow for children to be maimed and sexually​ abused.
    There is nothing to defend here these girls are disfigured for life, and these people are guilty !
    The attorney representing these fake doctors should have fgm done then see how she feels ! These are kids yes muzzie kids but still they need to be protected by u.s.a laws.
    Next we will hear Sharia law permits rape of minors marriying off underage girls to old men, and their religious freedom makes it all ok!!!

  • Sunshine Kid

    Write to your representatives in government at EVERY level to remind the judges of this nation that they are REQUIRED to uphold the supreme law of the land, not a foreign law. Mention Article six, second paragraph of the United States Constitution.

  • AjiSabaki

    Why stop with that. Sharia allows us kafirs (non-muslims and muslims of the wrong sect) to be killed. This is the religious “freedom” of Islam.

  • Drew the Infidel

    What ever happened to the medical maxim,”Do no harm”? With this going to trial with such a flimsy defense and given the rules of evidence, it will become apparent that after you open a can of worms the only solution is to get a bigger can.


    We need martial-law & a dictatorship to protect human rights.
    # Ban Islam, save lives worldwide & free the Leavenworth 10,  the Biafra-leader, the African slaves from Saudi Arabia to Mauritania, Israeli soldier Azaria & so on.

  • If religious Islamic sharia law is allowed to supersede secular United States Constitutional law – America will have submitted to sharia law and become a dhimmi nation. The issue is far beyond FGM or even honor killing and child marriages – sharia law is antithetical to Western norms and cannot be allowed to transform our nation into a theocratic Islamic Republic like Iran. NO religious laws can ever be allowed to supersede established secular laws in America.

  • Ed Heavner

    If the Judge lets this one fly, it will be one more step towards Islam and Sharia usurping US Law and the Constitution.

  • Chris

    How could this be the test case? Couldn’t one argue that each time the courts ruled against Christians in favor of LGBT rights has already set the precedence that ones religious beliefs do not override state and federal laws already? (eg: being forced to bake LGBT wedding cakes, being forced to host and cater LGBT weddings, being jailed for not issuing LGBT marriage licenses)

  • solange9

    This should not be too difficult of a debate. Islam is not a religion. Here is a link to a very good article explaining why.

  • dad1927
  • randice

    Well, according to their religion, honor killings are justified, severing heads of unbelievers are justified. So, if FGM is being argued as a religious practice, then, what’s all the fuss about with the other practices? Are they not just following their religious practices? (insert sarcasm here). In other words, this argument is absolutely baseless and just another form of terrorism brought on by the religion of peace.

  • MarieBlue

    It will be interesting to see if the courts determine that religious freedom does not allow genital mutilation. If so, it could pave the way to the end of all infant and child circumcisions. Quite frankly, I hope it does. I do not believe anyone has the right to carve their religion into the genitals of a child for any reason. Male or female.

  • Walter Fletcher

    Hopefully when the court rules against religion not being enough to protect this (which according to the federal law it isn’t, neither is cultural reasons) we can finally work on banning infant male circumcision. After all the equal protection clause should already cover it.

    Before any one says “but it’s medically necessary”, it is not. Everything it may be beneficial towards there is no guarantee to happen to the boy or man. Cleanliness is bull as it takes more effort to clean a baby after it is done. When the baby is intact don’t retract, clean what is seen. For the first many years the foreskin is FUSED naturally to the glans, retracting before it’s ready tears it from the head and causes injury leaving it open to infection.

    Also before anyone says it does no damage I can personally vouch that it does. When I was circumcised as an infant the doctor took too much skin that when puberty came around when I became aroused it is too tight making it painful, and when having sex the skin behind the head will often rip feeling like I am being cut with a knife. I am not the only man who suffers this, there are many men who try and spread awareness only to be shut down by people either trying to shame us for speaking out or insult us into submission. My own family has done this to me. I ask that you research the functions of the foreskin and leave your sons intact.

    As for the religion side of it, he was just born and has not made the important decision regarding religion yet. What about his religious freedom?

    By the way to all Christians who circumcise their sons either for religion or “medical” reasons. Read all of Galatians chapter 5 verse 2 onward. Thank you.

  • Merchantseamen

    How come the democrats aren’t screaming bout this act. It is always about keep, your hands off my body, stay out of my vagina.

  • Deplorable Kulak

    If that is part of their ‘religion’ then we don’t want that religion here. Deport them. All of them — starting with the imams.

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