Controversial Cleric, Advocate of Female Genital Mutilation, Challenges Tunisian Critics - Tunisia Live Controversial Cleric, Advocate of Female Genital Mutilation, Challenges Tunisian Critics - Tunisia Live
Controversial Cleric, Advocate of Female Genital Mutilation, Challenges Tunisian Critics

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Controversial Cleric, Advocate of Female Genital Mutilation, Challenges Tunisian Critics

Egyptian Cleric Wajdi Ghoneim

Wajdi Ghoneim, the fiery Egyptian cleric notorious for his controversial stances on a number of social and political issues, issued a challenge “ via Facebook “ against his secular and liberal Tunisian critics, calling upon them to face him in a live, televised debate.

Ghoneim's contentious visit to Tunisia “ organized by Dar el-Hadith Academy, al-Forqan Association for Teaching the Qur’an, and the Basha’ir el-Kheir Organization – has been met with a wave of uproar, characterized both by dissent and support, from representatives of nearly all demographics of Tunisian society.

Bochra Bel Haj Hamida, a lawyer and human rights activist, and a team of other lawyers, have announced that they are building a case against Ghoneim, on charges of inciting hatred as well as the unauthorized use of public spaces for the purpose of worship. Hamida stated during an interview on Mosaique FM that this visit could have divisive ramifications and serves only to interfere in Tunisian socio-political matters.

Abdelfattah Mourou, a lawyer who was formerly a prominent member of the Islamist party Ennahda, criticized Ghoneim along with other religious figures who have recently visited the country. In an interview on Tunisia's national television station last Monday, Mourou criticized the visiting figures for presenting their religious interpretations in a narrow, dogmatic context that fails to take into account, or be sensitive of, religious thought based on Tunisia's rich cultural heritage.

Ghoneim did not wait long to respond to the mounting wave of criticism in the form of an online video.

I’m telling all the secular and liberal Tunisians, who did not welcome me, I am not visiting you. I am visiting my brothers in God. I would never come here to visit you, Ghoneim riposted in his rebuttal video.

Since his arrival Ghoneim has made several stops on a country-wide tour. His lectures have packed stadiums with thousands of cheering spectators, eager to attend his fiery sermons.

Ghoneim has garnered notoriety for his contentious perspectives regarding religion, the West, and a number of social practices. However, he has become particularly recognized for his misogynistic perceptions regarding the role of women and his support of the practice of female genital mutilation (also known as FGM or female circumcision). The practice has a number of forms, but most commonly involves the full or partial removal of the clitoris and the inner and outer labia.

Ghoneim recently issued a statement clarifying that although FGM is not mandatory, that it is an option supported by Islamic science, and it should be considered as a form of cosmetic surgery.

Tunisia’s Ministry of Health issued a statement earlier today, in light of Ghoneim’s recent comments, warning against the practice and urging doctors to refuse to administer the treatment if requested.

Ghoneim stated in his response his readiness to meet his challengers head on.

I challenge you all, and I’m saying this out loud, all of you secularists and liberals, choose your smartest, strongest person, and I will debate with them on the air. Not a recorded show, because I don’t trust you – you keep twisting my words – but live on the air. Me verses you, said Ghoneim.

Radio Zitouna has announced that Ghoneim's trip has been extended to a future date that has yet to be defined.

  • Afif

    Wajdi Ghoneim GO HOME! YOU ARE NOT WELCOME IN TUNISIA!!! GET IT??

    • Sam

      Yes, but I am sorry for Egypt!

      Tunisia needs two main things to stabilize the unemployment problem: new foreign investment and high levels of tourism. Even Mr. Ghannouchi says, in today’s Financial Times, “Time is against us. We do need to crystallise these wishes [economic improvements] now, as soon as possible”. The paper predicts that the people will give the government until April to improve things, after which “all bets are off”.

      How on earth does Mr. Ghannouchi expect Tunisia to improve its economic situation if backward bigots like Wajdi Ghonem are invited to visit, worrying those who are economically active and putting off tourists and investors? What do the Islamists actually want, Sharia law at all costs or a prosperous, tolerant Tunisia with a bright future?

  • sahla

    We have international obligations treaties committments to CEDAW and CAT and ICCPR that are against torture and harmful customary practices. Bringing this person to Tunisia is a breach of our international law committments. This person should be thrown out of the country or put in jail for inciting hatred terrorism and violence.

  • Joey

    Interesting, while this guy walks around Tunisia freely suggesting that the clitoris should by forcibly sliced from screaming young girls with a dirty razor blade, the Tunisian authorities choose to arrest the publishers of a local newspaper that shows the cover of a very respectable German Magazine that in fact shows no naked organs – Just Sami Khedira and girlfriend.

    Democracy in action.

  • thamry721

    Mr. Wajdi Ghoneim’s comments are truly not reconcilable with the basic tenets of the Tunisian society. As a matter of fact, it is a big shame that a controversial character like him has been granted a visa to Tunisia, while Palestinian peace activists who applied for a visa last year for Tunisia in order to attend a summit in Tunis, have received a refusal due to “security concerns”. Meanwhile, Mr. Ghoneim has smartly perceived a post-revolutionary confusion among the Tunisian society when it comes to religious matters. His partly cruel views could therefore easily be swallowed up by the less educated individuals, especially the younger generation. This is exactly where every government should show a sense of responsibility towards its citizens by keeping this scum out of our soil.

  • 1984

    The man is a relic from the past and should be read about in history books.

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