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    There are probably hundreds of fatwas concerning female genital mutilation or „khitan“ which is in Arabic circumcision, some condemning the practice for girls, some allowing it, some recommending it, some requiring it.

    A fatwa is a religious ruling which Muslim believers will try to follow, but they are not considered binding. Usually, fatwas are issued by a mufti who works for the national Dar al Ifta (House of rulings) which is in many countries with Muslim majority an official national body. There are Shia and Sunni fatwas and within Sunni Islam the four main law school may each have their own interpretation on a subject. Even within one law school, the rulings in one country differ from those in another country. To complicate things, a fatwa does not have to be issued by an official Mufti, but could also come from other religious scholars.

    The believers may follow those fatwas issued by their mufti, but they can also follow a fatwa by a preacher they particularly like, refer to an Internet page specialized in Islamic guidance or they can choose a fatwa suiting best their circumstances. Thus, the fact that a fatwa has been issued against or pro female genital mutilation does not mean that this is the official legal opinion of “Islam” – a common misunderstanding among Westerner who compare such rulings with those of the Catholic Pope.

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    Female Genital Mutilation has been documented to be practiced in Indonesia since the 17th century. During the past 20 years a number of  r have found a prevalence of more than 90 percent in some areas. It occurs in parts of East, Central and West Java, North Sumatra, Aceh, South Sulawesi and on Madura Island, as well as in many other parts of the archipelago.

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