Quilliam is extremely concerned by recent calls to introduce FGM in the Maldives on religious grounds. Dr. Mohamed Iyaz Abdul Latheef, Vice President of the influential Fiqh Academy of the Maldives, who is also a candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood-inspired Adhaalath Party, has led these calls and offered theological justifications for his actions. These calls are symptomatic of a wider lurch towards an archaic form of religious conservatism that is currently taking place in the country, threatening to undermine fundamental human rights.

Quilliam’s Senior Researcher in Islamic Studies, Dr Usama Hasan, said: ‘FGM has no Islamic sanction – there are just two traditions on the subject, both of which are strongly disputed, with many jurists throughout history discounting them as having nothing to do with the Prophet of Islam, but, like the blasphemy and apostasy laws of medieval Islam, FGM became a theoretical juristic position even though it was rarely practiced. Contemporary Muslim scholars are increasingly opposed to and dismissive of FGM’.

The highly literalist thinking behind this call has also given rise to the same cleric’s insistence on the introduction of ancient hudud punishments, such as amputation and flogging, that have no place in a modern society. These punishments were abolished by the scholars and sultans of the Ottoman Empire in the 1850s, but have been reintroduced in some Muslim-majority countries by literalists in the 21st century.

Quilliam also welcomes recent commitments to more rigourous enforcement of existing anti-FGM laws in the UK, and commends the campaign of the young British Somali woman from Bristol, Leyla Hussein, in this regard. However, much more needs to be done to stamp out this barbaric practice worldwide. We hope that influential British parliamentarians, religious figures and human rights activists will be at the forefront of renewed global anti-FGM campaigning.