Trinity lecturer apologises over female circumcision comments

Dr. Ali Selim made the apology on the Pat Kenny Show last night

Trinity lecturer Dr. Ali Selim has apologised for comments he made on female circumcision, otherwise known as female genital mutilation (FGM). Dr. Selim had said that the practice should be allowed with a doctor’s approval.

Speaking on the Pat Kenny Show on TV3 last night, Selim said that when he originally made the comments on Prime Time he condemned Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) but when the term “circumcision” was raised, he “misunderstood” the term. He further described the practise the practise as “un-Islamic”.

Selim said that the misunderstanding occurred due to his understanding of the term “circumcision”. When asked whether he condemns circumcision when it refers to FGM Selim replied that he “condemns it in the strongest terms”.

Selim said that, during the interview on Prime Time, he was out of his “comfort zone” and that he “misunderstood the terms aas medical experts would use them”. Selim explained that English is not his native language and that he has no medical experience.

Asked whether he condemns the practise as he now understands it, Selim replied: “Yes of course, it’s always wrong and it has no religious foundation”. Selim then described the practise as a cultural practice observed both by Muslims and non Muslims. He stated: “I definitely support the ban of that [FGM] and circumcision that gives the same meaning, I definitely condemn that as well”.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states the “procedure has no health benefits for girls and women”. Globally, the United Nations estimates that “at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM”.  

Responding to claims that students have called for his dismissal, Selim said that it was not “students” plural but “a student”.  An alternative teacher has been offered to Dr. Selim’s students following a letter of complaint sent by students to the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Studies.

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President Kevin Keane has also called for the dismissal of Trinity lecturer, Dr. Ali Selim, in a letter to the Provost Patrick Prendergast. On Tuesday, Dr Ronan Collins, a Clinical Associate Professor of Trinity College, said he “return” his academic title if Selim was not dismissed.

Selim, speaking in response to these complaints, said that Trinity College is run by “very wise people” and that they will make: “ the best decision to serve the interests of our students” and that he would “support anything that is in the best interest of our students”.

Selim then stated that he had received support from students and other academics in Trinity who emailed him to say they understood he misused the term  and that they understood that he is not a medical doctor.