Trinity lecturer wins unfair dismissal case after female circumcision controversy

Dr Ali Selim was dismissed from College in September 2018

Dr Ali Selim, the Trinity lecturer who was dismissed last year over comments made about female genital mutilation, has won an unfair dismissal case against College.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has ordered College to pay Selim a total of €6,144 after finding he was unfairly dismissed; €4,000 for his unfair dismissal, €1,644 for non-payment of notice and €500 for not receiving his written terms of employment.

Selim was dismissed after comments made on RTÉ’s Primetime, saying: “I’m not an advocate of female genital mutilation but I am an advocate of female circumcision… We see female circumcision in the same way we see male circumcision. It might be needed for one person and not another, and it has to be done by a doctor and practised in a safe environment.” The comments sparked widespread criticism from students and the Muslim community.

In the aftermath of the controversy, Trinity offered alternative Arabic language classes after a letter of complaint was sent to the Head of Near and Middle Eastern Studies by students, while then TCDSU President Kevin Keane called for Selim’s immediate dismissal from College, saying: “By doing nothing, our University provides a platform and a degree of legitimacy to this man – we must act swiftly and decisively to strip him of that legitimacy.” Selim apologised for the comments a number of days later.

College informed Selim that his teaching services were not required last September, and told the commission that his core subjects were not being availed of. In response, Selim said that Trinity did not provide him with a clear reason for his dismissal. WRC adjudication officer Penelope McGrath found that Trinity’s actions were “inadequate” and said that Selim “got caught up in a wave of negative publicity”.

Niamh Lynch

Niamh was Editor of the 65th volume of Trinity News. She is a History and Politics graduate.