The United Nations, expressing deep concern, said on Thursday that militant group Islamic State had ordered all girls and women in and around Iraq's northern city of Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM).
Reuters news agency reports that doubts emerged on social media about the basis for the report. One document posted on Twitter suggested it may be a year old and have been issued by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, the group's previous name.
Other Internet comments, including from Middle East analysts, questioned whether the order fit with the cultural traditions of the region. A U.N. spokesman in Geneva said that they were seeking clarity and trying to establish the facts.
A U.N. spokesman in Geneva said that they were seeking clarity and trying to establish the facts. FGM is also believed to be practised fairly widely in some immigrant communities in Europe, where many governments have moved to make it a criminal offence.
Campaigners say that the practice is often promoted by local Islamic preachers, although senior Muslim clerics in many countries, including Egypt, have denounced it as against the ethos of the religion.
Below is an extract from the original report via Al Arabiya (the Saudi-owned news channel broadcast out of Dubai) detailing the latest development from Iraq where militant group ISIS/IS has ordered FGM for all women, and see the reaction on Twitter.
UPDATE 24 July: ISIS has denied that the story is true, while others have called it a hoax. Nevertheless, it has been published in leading world media including BBC news, The Guardian and Reuters. We will keep you posted.
UPDATE 25 July: According to an article in The Guardian a Kurdish website, BasNews, reported on Wednesday that the fatwa had been issued by the self-proclaimed "Caliph" of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as a "gift" to the people of Mosul and "to prevent immorality and promote Islamic attitudes among Muslims." The newspaper reported that BasNews stood by its story, with the editor Hawar Abdulrazaq telling the Guardian: "Of course ISIS would deny this".
Suspicions have been raised partly because FGM is not required by Islam and is not prevalent in Iraq - it mostly occurs in Egypt, Sudan and east Africa.
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