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Somali clerics issue fatwa against female genital mutilation

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Mogadishu (dpa) - Prominent Somali clerics took the unusual step Wednesday of issuing a fatwa against the prevalent practice of female genital mutilation.

Speaking at a press conference organized by the Somali Religious Umbrella (SRU) at a local hospital, the clerics condemned the practice as against the Islamic faith.

All who practised it should be punished, they said. "FGM is totally forbidden in Islam and is a crime akin to murder," said Sheikh Nur Baroud Gurhan, deputy chairman of the SRU.

"I notice parents commit these crime against their children and I call on every girl suffering this fate can take their parents on in an Islamic court and ask for compensation," the sheikh added.

The practice - widely carried out on girls aged between seven and nine under the guise of religion - is a leading cause of birth complications at delivery, and can lead to death of mothers.

However, powerful clan allegiances rule the lawless country and differences between Somalia's religious leaders are rife, leading many to doubt how enforceable the fatwa is.

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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