It was an explosive story: A U.S. emergency-room doctor in Detroit was prosecuted for intentionally mutilating the genitals of two young girls. But major TV networks simply ignored the alarming news, according to a media watchdog that slammed the outlets Tuesday.
Media Research Center said ABC, CBS and NBC all failed to report on the case of Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, 44, an emergency-room physician who was arrested April 13 on charges that she performed the grisly practice of female genital mutilation, or FGM. The practice involves removing all or part of the clitoris of girls between the ages of 6 and 8.
The media that did report the horrific crimes the doctor allegedly committed have failed to associate the practice with Islamic countries, despite a 2013 United Nations report showing large swaths of Africa and parts of the Middle East and Asia still subject their daughters to the procedure in stunning numbers.
According to the 2013 UNICEF report covering 29 countries, Egypt has the region’s highest total number of women who have undergone FGM – 27.2 million – while Somalia has the highest percentage (prevalence) of FGM at 98 percent.
Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced charges against Nagarwala for performing FGM on two Minnesota girls brought to her suburban Detroit office by their parents. Minnesota has a large community of Somali refugees. Several additional victims of the doctor have come forward in Michigan this week.
The New York Times, FoxNews.com and CNN have all posted news articles online about the case, and Fox News’ Tucker Carlson ran a segment about it on his Friday show. So far, the morning and evening news shows at the big three networks have been silent, as has CNN.
WND reported last week that even the media companies that reported on the arrest of Nagarwala have almost universally failed to inform audiences that FGM is an almost exclusively Muslim practice in today’s world.
The Detroit News finally did publish a story Monday that identified Dr. Nagarwala as a Muslim, after omitting the fact in three previous stories on the case.
But the newspaper spins its latest story in such a way as to suggest that Nagarwala’s grotesque procedure is practiced only by a tiny sect within Islam, the Dawoodi Bohras, which has about 1 million followers out of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide.
“The Dawoodi Bohras hail mostly from western India and were traditionally comprised of businessmen, entrepreneurs and professionals. There are approximately 1 million followers worldwide,” the Detroit News reports.
The newspaper then quotes Dawud Walid, the Michigan chapter leader for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, who assures Michiganians that this practice is not condoned by any members of the state’s mainstream mosques.
“It is a more insular community,” Walid said. “They do not mingle, and that mosque doesn’t really affiliate with any of the other mosques in Metro Detroit.”
Walid also told the News he has never heard of a religious procedure described by Nagarwala’s defense attorneys.
But Walid should be very familiar with the practice because it is widespread across the Muslim world, experts on the Islamic culture and practices told WND.
Dr. Mark Christian, an OB-GYN who was trained in his native Egypt, said he has personally had to treat hundreds of women who suffered negative effects of FGM.
“In the Middle East, it’s called female circumcision. I never did it, but I fixed a lot of side effects from it,” Dr. Christian, a Christian convert from Islam who now lives in Nebraska, told WND.
Egypt: The FGM capital of the world
Dr. Christian said Egypt is the FGM capital of the world. At least 91 percent of Egyptian women are “circumcised,” according to the 2013 UNICEF report. In Somalia, 98 percent of woman have had their genitals mutilated, the highest of any country.
The U.S. Justice Department case against Dr. Nagarwala involved Somali parents bringing their daughters to the doctor in Detroit to have the procedure done. Those children have now been seized by social services in Minnesota and removed from their homes.
“A lot of patients would have this done in outside practices, by midwives predominantly, and then they would come to me later in life with some serious problems, problems with fertility and with urinary tract issues that can be very painful,” Dr. Christian, who founded the Global Faith Institute, told WND.
“There are 200 million women in the world today who have had this done to them. Egypt is the capital of female circumcision in terms of the number of procedures done there,” he said.
Ironically, the procedure was banned in Egypt in 2008, and the penalty was increased from a misdemeanor to a felony in 2017. But it will never be wiped out, as long as Islam is the dominant religion, Christian said.
The procedure itself involves cutting all or part of the clitoris and sewing together the two labia menora of the vagina, allowing just a small opening for urination. It usually is done before the girl reaches puberty but sometimes later in her teen years.
Before she is married, another surgery is performed to reopen her sewn-shut labia.
“So basically they make the girl unable to have intercourse before marriage. And she will never be able to enjoy sex after that,” said Dr. Christian, who was also a child imam in his teens, had memorized most of the Quran and led pilgrimages to Mecca.
This barbaric practice is traced historically to the Egyptian pharaohs, he said, but was adopted by Islamic scholars and became part of Shariah law in many countries.
“It’s as old as Egyptian civilization. We have to note that Islam never came up with a genuine, original idea,” he said. “Islam never invented anything. Prayers, fasting, dietary rules, the five pillars and its rituals were all adopted from other religions and civilizations. This is true also for circumcision.”
Christian said Islam’s founder and prophet, Mohammad, talked about circumcision extensively.
“He said whoever, as a man, converts to Islam, even if he is old, has to be circumcised,” he said. “As for the female, Muhammad did not circumcise his own daughter, but he did not forbid it and, in fact, he encouraged it for everybody but his own family.”
For Muhammad and the many Muslim leaders who followed him, circumcision is about keeping a woman’s “honor” intact until marriage.
“It’s basically closing the woman until the marriage contract and then then go back and cut her again, and this way they make sure she never has premarital sex and denying her any satisfaction or arousal, for life, even after marriage,” he said. “They don’t want the woman to be needy in that way.”
The only significant population of Christians who participate in this brutal practice are the Coptic Christians in Egypt, Dr. Christian said, and there is a reason for this.
“Egypt was Christianized very early on. As soon as the Christians came to Egypt, female circumcision became forbidden, and they tried to eliminate all the traditional practices of the pharaohs and Islam,” he explained. “It soon became completely gone from Egyptian society, but when Islam came in during the seventh century, this is when FGM became endemic again right away.”
This is when the Copts got snared into the practice, Christian said.
“The Church tried to push against it, and the Muslim dads kept telling the Christian dads, ‘Your Christian girls are more promiscuous, less honorable, because they are not circumcised,’ so in return the Christians start engaging in this as well, even though the church preaches against it,” he said. “The Copts are pretty much the only Christians who are doing it today. And this is because of the ongoing tensions between the Christians and Muslims there in Egypt.”
Whenever the government of Egypt tries to crack down on the practice, the imams coming out of al-Ahzer University in Cairo resist such movements, he said.
“Imams will say that since Muhammad did see it being done and he did not stop it, then it is up for every family to make this decision on their own,” he added. “And Muhammad did say it was honorable and no man wants his daughters to go around being promiscuous and having premarital sex, so this is why they push for it.
“It has been very customary that it is done by midwives and not by doctors in the hospitals.”
Dr. Christian said the impacts of FGM on women can be devastating, from bleeding to death from the procedure itself, infertility, infection and sexual dysfunction.
“A 17-year-old girl died just few months ago in Egypt, and they upgraded it to felony status. About 16,000 women and girls have died in Egypt over the past decade as a result of this procedure,” he said.
“And this is not one or two cases; this is the main surgery I would do at least once or twice a day in Cairo to fix these problems,” he said. “It is very common.”
Even with the new laws against FGM in Egypt, he said the practice will likely never be eliminated or even severely curtailed as long as Islamic clerics hold sway over Egyptian society.
“It is dying out in highly educated families, but the majority of families in Egypt do not live in this highly educated status,” he said. “It could have died away like many prehistoric practices, but the reason it has been carried through to our current age is because Muhammad did not forbid it but encouraged it.
“There is no case for changing or reforming, because, if you do, you are guilty of apostasy.”