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Landmark court decision in The Netherlands on recommending Female Genital Mutilation by islamic preacher

22 juni 2020

In 2018 Femmes for Freedom organised a campaign to file a criminal report against the preacher of the As- Soennah Mosque because this mosque advocated female genital mutilation; this was brought to light by the investigative journalists Milena Holdert who works for Nieuwsuur [current-affairs programme on Dutch television] and Andreas Kouwenhoven who works for NRC [leading Dutch broadsheet newspaper]. Over 133 people filed a criminal report together with Femmes for Freedom concerning this severe abuse. Femmes for Freedom was assisted by the lawyer Carene van Vliet and Janina Hamann from the law firm Delissen Martens.

Today the judge ruled in this case: ‘The Court are of the opinion that in this case the right to freedom of (religion and) speech cannot outweigh the right of women to protection against violence and discrimination’.

The accused has been convicted to 80 hours community service. Femmes for Freedom is highly pleased with this conviction. The conviction has made it clear that it is not allowed to advocate violence against girls and women on the basis of religious sources. This is an important step for the fundamental human rights of girls and women. We have realised this splendid result with your support this change was realised with your help. Thanks to you we can now say that advocating violence against girls and women is not acceptable. We thank you very much for your support and we look forward to continue the fight for the rights of women and girls.

The summary

The Hague, 19 June 2020

Today the Court of Appeal in The Hague sentenced a former teacher of the As-Soennah mosque to 80 hours community service. In an on-line video that was accessible on the website of the mosque from the autumn of 2015 until May 2018 the 32-year-old teacher made statements about female circumcision. The Court considers these statements to be seditious and an incitement to commit violence against women

Female circumcision publicly recommended

The man quoted from a scientific book without making it absolutely clear to his audience that female circumcision, other than the quote suggests, is not to be recommended.

Particularly because at the time he held the position of teacher at one of the larger mosques in The Netherlands his words are taken seriously. By not distancing himself from the quote he gave the impression that female circumcision was considered desirable in the As-Soennah mosque. Therefore he is guilty of sedition and incitement to commit violence against women.

A line has been crossed and a conviction is required

The Court is of the opinion that a conviction for this statement is required in a democratic society. The statements were made in the public domain and serious assault would have ensued had they been complied with. According to the Court in this case the defendant’s right to freedom of (religion and) speech does not outweigh the right of women to protection against violence and discrimination.

If you want to read the complete verdict click here!

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