The United Nations claimed Thursday the Sunni militant group the Islamic State is ordering all girls and women to undergo female genital mutilation in Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq that the jihadists seized in June. But the group and Mosul residents are disputing the claim.
An International Business Times translation of the purported fatwa says it “informs all states and sections should cut the women in honor of him, the caliph,” an apparent reference to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who took the self-appointed title of Caliph Ibrahim after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria declared a caliphate with territory it seized in the two countries. The document goes on to say that “Allah said that women were circumcised by the city.”
But Syria-based freelance journalist Tracey Shelton says the fatwa actually was issued in Aleppo, Syria, in June 2013.
— Tracey Shelton (@tracey_shelton) July 24, 2014
Jacqueline Badcock, the U.N.’s resident and humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, told reporters Thursday that the Islamic State issued a fatwa demanding girls and women from ages 11 to 46 in Mosul undergo the procedure, the Guardian reported.
"This is something very new for Iraq, particularly in this area, and is of grave concern and does need to be addressed," she said. “This is not the will of Iraqi people, or the women of Iraq in these vulnerable areas covered by the terrorists.”
Leila Fadel, NPR’s Cairo bureau chief who is currently in Mosul, quoted an IS spokesman who said the fatwa is not true. She said Mosul residents also backed up the spokesman’s claims.
â€” Leila Fadel (@LeilaFadel) July 24, 2014
Shiraz Maher, senior fellow at King’s College London specializing in the Middle East, told the Independent that she examined the fatwa purportedly coming from the Islamic State and deemed the document a fake. She said it was likely distributed by one of the group’s enemies or rivals.
Maher added that female genital mutilation is more of a cultural phenomenon than a practice associated with radical Islam. She said FGM is “not something jihadists have ever really taken up” or “spoken about.”
Jenan Moussa, a reporter for Dubai-based Al Aan TV, also said she’s hearing that the Islamic State didn’t issue the decree.
â€” Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) July 24, 2014
IBTimes reporter Erin Banco contributed to this story.