A report released by the United Nations’ resident and humanitarian coodinator in Iraq, Jacqueline Badcock, suggested that the terrorist group Islamic State had issued a fatwa demanding all women between the ages of 11 and 46 undergo female genital mutilation. While conflicting reports followed the claim, some rushed to defend the terror group.
According to Al-Jazeera, Badcock said that the edict had come down in the city of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest, a week after the terrorist group formerly known as ISIS evicted the city’s Christian population. The decree, she explained, could affect as many as four million women and girls. “This is something very new for Iraq, particularly in this area, and is of grave concern,” she explained. “This is not the will of Iraqi people, or the women of Iraq in these vulnerable areas covered by the terrorists.”
Many suggested that the UN claims were based on a document with the Islamic State logo circulating on social media, which some have suggested is from 2013 and issued in Aleppo, Syria, not Mosul.
— Basima Faysal (@BasimaFaysal) July 22, 2014
Concurrent with the claims that said document was one year old, supporters of the Islamic State on social media and representatives of the organization denied the report, claiming it was not a customary practice among jihadists. If the alleged ISIS document was from 2013, that would establish a precedent that proves there is a history within that group of performing such an act, but ISIS supporters online did not address that discrepancy.
In addition to supporters of Islamic State online, various experts consulted by progressive sites argued that the edict was unlikely. In a column titled “No, ISIS is Not Ordering Female Genital Mutilation in Iraq,” the website ThinkProgress dismissed the claims entirely, rather than treat them as “disputed,” the way outlets like BBC and Talking Points Memo have. According to one expert by ThinkProgress, female genital mutilation is “based more on culture” and “not something jihadists have ever really taken up… [or] spoken about.” The Guardian also challenged the claim, noting that ISIS supporters who very prominently posted ghastly images of beheadings and mass killings were denying this particular crime: “If ISIS responds to every lie and rumour they will not be able to control all these areas you hear about,” they wrote.
The Guardian noted, however, that the UN is not the only source of this report. Kurdish officials and some in Mosul have claimed the report is real. Ahmed Obaydi, a spokesman for Mosul police, said publicly that the edict came directly from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the “Caliph Ibrahim” of the Islamic State. Said Obaydi, “Baghdadi’s decision to have all women circumcised is, as he claims, to prevent immorality and promote Islamic attitudes among Muslims. The decision was made by Baghdadi as a ‘gift’ for people in Mosul.”
The Islamic State has committed numerous atrocities against women in both Iraq and its bases in Syria, particularly Raqqa, the city appointed by ISIS leaders as the capital of the Caliphate. ISIS issued an edict forcing all women in Mosul to wear a full veil and loose clothing to adhere to their version of Sharia law. They have issued commands for Sunni extremists to “convert” women to radical Islam through “jihad by sex” and stone women in Syria to death for adultery.