A controversial Virginia imam has been filmed appearing to advocate for female genital mutilation.
Imam Shaker Elsayed was filmed June 2 delivering a lecture at the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, Virginia, according to the Daily Mail, in which he seemed to say that female genital mutilation was "the honorable thing to do" for young girls. He was speaking about "sunna," or traditional Islamic practices.
"[Circumcision is] a sunna for the boys, and the honorable thing to do -- if needed -- for the girls," said the imam. "This is something that a Muslim gynecologist can tell you if you need to or not."
"There used to be a lady who used to do this for women, or, I mean, young girls," continued Elsayed. "She is expected to cut only the tip of the sexual sensitive part in the girl, so that she is not hyper-sexually active. This is the purpose."
"Of course, if that lady or surgeon cut more than the tip, it causes serious harm in the sexual life of the child when she grows up, and this is why the West thinks of [it] as sexual mutilation," he added, saying that the process should be carried out by an expert with "training and knowledge."
"Because in many of the Muslim countries, ladies and men who are not qualified and do not have the training or the knowledge as to what exactly needs to be done, they cut more than needed," Elsayed went on. "They end up damaging the sexual sensuality of the woman, when she becomes an adult, and she becomes cool or cold in the sexual relationship. And this is haram. This is prohibited, okay?"
The imam said that he found the practice necessary in order to keep girls from being "hyper-sexual."
"On the contrary, you see in societies where circumcision of girls is completely prohibited, hyper-sexuality takes over the entire society, and a woman is not satisfied with one person, or two, or three," said Elsayed. "This is, God forbid, now happening even in Muslim societies where they prohibit circumcision. They use a mistake in practice to prohibit the tradition, and they end up causing a lot of damage on the other extreme side of the sexual life of a woman."
After the video of the lecture was posted online, the board of directors at Dar al-Hijrah condemned the imam's statements, saying that they were offensive.
"We at Dar Al-Hijrah, DO NOT condone, promote, or support any practice of FGM," said the board in a statement, according to the Washington Post. "The reference to 'Hyper-sexuality' is offensive and it is unequivocally rejected. The Board of Directors is particularly disturbed by such comments."
Elsayed also issued an apology, in which he said he "takes back" what he said during the lecture.
"I admit that I should have avoided it. I hereby take it back. And I do apologize to all those who are offended by it," he said.
Members of the community have called for Elsayed's termination.
A group of over 20 of Muslim leaders released a statement demanding the board of directors "immediately terminate Imam Shaker Elsayed’s contract. We cannot and will not stand for any Imam or Muslim leader who endorses human rights abuses antithetical to our beautiful faith."