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Michele Hoitenga, who represents district 102, introduced Bill S-1386, following the arrests of Dr. Jumana Nagarwala and Fakhruddin Attar and his wife Farida Attar for performing female genital mutilation (FGM) on girls between the ages of six and eight. The arrests kick off the first prosecution of FGM in the history of the United States.
Church Militant reached out to Rep. Hoitenga for comment. "I did have the bill sitting on my desk," she told us. "When the arrests happened, it did ignite the flame towards getting the bill introduced." She went on to explain that the current bill will be followed up by separate supporting bills aimed squarely at tightening up penalties for FGM.
"The first bill was aimed at keeping religion from being used a defense in court," she told Church Militant. "A separate bill banning FGM should be forthcoming."
The current federal penalty for FGM is five years in prison.
Hoitenga emphasized the need for across-the-aisle support to take on these acts of violence against women and girls. "I'm really hoping to reach out to women," she commented. 'I don't think this should be a partisan issue."
In a comment on her Facebook page, Hoitenga said in reference to self-proclaimed feminists present at the D.C. Women's March, "Any woman who defends these practices, or believes five years is a sufficient penalty, is a danger to every woman in this world." The comment was made on a post about U.S. states with the highest danger of girls being victims of FGM. Michigan is among the top 15.
Opponents of S-1386 include Rep. Abdullah Hammoud. Hammoud is Muslim and represents Dearborn, the city with the largest Muslim population outside the Middle East, where the crimes took place and arrests were made. Regarding the connection between Sharia law and FGM, Hammoud said, "As a Muslim, I can tell you that I'm not aware of a fundamentalist version or another version that encourages female genital mutilation. That's just not a thing."
But according to Sharia scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, in a statement on female circumcision, "circumcision is better for a woman's health and it enhances her conjugal relation with her husband."
This ruling continues, "I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world. But whoever chooses not to do it is not considered to have committed a sin for it is mainly meant to dignify women."
In an interview with Tucker Carlson, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an FGM victim as well as an activist and founder of Aha Foundation, said, "There is this crazy identity politics in the United States of America now. ... [Girls] are at risk of these horrible and horrifying practices. FGM is just one, but there are others. People are willing to sacrifice little girls on the altar of identity politics."
Hirsi Ali faced death threats owing to her criticism of Islam. Linda Sarsour, co-chair of the recent DC Women's March, has made known her feelings about Hirsi Ali in a tweet: "She's asking for an a$$ whippin, I wish I could take their vaginas away — they don't deserve to be women."
The FGM arrests were made during the first week of Easter on April 17 and 21 respectively. On Good Friday, April 14, the Islamic Organization of North America in Warren, another city close to Detroit, hosted a lecture titled "Sharia Law — How it Benefits Humanity."
Currently, per the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are 10 states with legislation banning use of foreign law in U.S. courts and another 15 with pending bills. The Mayor of Irving, Texas, Beth Van Duyne, passed a city resolution supporting the Texas version of the legislation known as American Laws for American Courts. Van Duyne has since been recruited into Housing and Urban Development under Dr. Ben Carson.