Is a Female Genital Mutilation facebook page Hate Speech?

This week I did a post about a facebook page promoting female genital mutilation. Thanks to freedom of speech I am able to criticise the point of view expressed on that page. Yesterday I received a copy of an e-mail sent to one of our readers about their complaint about the page.

Name: redacted

Email: Redacted

Message: Hi there, just wanted to let you know the Facebook page about
female circumcision was taken down after my request to Facebook. Got
taken down within 24 hours. Seemed worth mentioning.

Here was their reply:
“We removed the Page you reported

We reviewed the Page you reported for displaying hate speech. Since it
violated our Community Standards, we removed it. Thanks for your
report. We let Islamic Female Circumcision know that their Page has
been removed, but not who reported it.”

I find facebook’s response very surprising since they leave up facebook pages full of real hate speech towards Israel and Jews and ones promoting Islamic terrorism ( despite thousands of complaints ) but remove this page which didn’t contain any hate speech at all. What do you think? Is promoting female and male circumcision ( genital mutilation ) hate speech?

There are plenty of facebook pages that other people would like to see shutdown that are not shut down because of free speech. While I totally disagree with the female genital mutilation page I do not think that it is fair to shut them down on the basis of hate speech when that clearly is not the case. The best cure for pages like that one is to exercise our freedom of speech by commenting on the page and debating the issue. By shutting down alternative opinions no matter how offensive we find them, we are acting like the totalitarians that we all despise. If it is okay to do it to them, it is okay to do it to us, we must never lose sight of that truth.



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  • Brian Dingwall

    Today’s announcement by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and You Tube, and the EU Commission of an agreement re “Hate Speech” reported here may be of interest to all of us who believe freedom of speech is an infrangible requirement of a modern healthy society

    • Observer

      The EU is moving ever closer to USSR totalitarianism to shut down dissent. I think this kind of thing will ultimately backfire on them.

    • Chinaman

      ”But if it is an Islamic group that claims that it is an Islamic practice and use the Koran to justify it, isn’t that religious freedom?”

      That was the argument that the East India Company used in regards to Sati burning of widows in India..some British Christians had a different take on it though and lobbied parliament to ban the practice.

  • Seriously?

    Female genital mutilation is horrific, deserves our opprobrium, and ought to be illegal world wide. Doing it under the name of religion merely illustrates the blind stupidity religions induce.

    But if it is hate speech, so is talk of (the also abhorrent) male genital mutilation by the Jewish and others.

    No, abhorrent, stupid, ignorant, abuse it may be, but it is not hate speech.

  • Second time around

    The facebook page was misleading as it is an African practice, not part of Islam. Also it is illegal in most parts of the world. Associating the practice with a religion, rather than with a subset of adherents of a religion, seems to meet the criteria for hate speech.

    • spanishbride

      But if it is an Islamic group claims that it is an Islamic practice and use the Koran to justify it, isn’t that religious freedom?

      • Second time around

        To believe that it is correct would be the religious freedom. FGM is practised by a number of religious groups in Africa, not just Muslims. Fortunately society has put limits on how a belief may be acted out.

        • Brian Anderson

          I have heard that FGM is practiced by other religions, but my (actual) experience in the part of Africa I worked in (Burkina Faso) was that it was confined to Islamic groups. Perhaps this was an aberration but where, in Africa, is FGM practiced significantly by non-Islamic groups?
          Its horrors have to be seen to be believed. The obstetric complications are significant.

          • Duchess of Pork

            Where, in Africa, is FGM practiced significantly by non-Islamic groups?
            In Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya and Niger and amongst the Egyptian Coptic Christians according to this article from the African Journal of Urology although the author considers the practice to be of cultural not religious inception.


          • Brian Anderson

            Islam spread in a great arc south of the Sahara, following the slave-trade route. Many tribes along this route converted to Islam – partly because it made them immune to being taken as slaves while allowing them to sell captives from other tribes to the Arab slave traders. This accounts for the Islamic groups of Nth Nigeria who were involved in the Biafran Wars when I was there (and now Boko Haram) These certainly practice FGM but I wasn’t aware of any other groups who did so. In Kenya about 10 – 11% of the population is Islamic and I understand these (along with similar groups in Tanzania) also practice FGM. I have no knowledge or medical contacts in Egypt so I can’t comment on the Copts!

      • PersonOfColor:WHITE

        If only the women involved were free to decline…..yeah right.

    • Evan

      That’s just not true 2nd time around. The % of Egyptian women who’ve been mutilated is close to 80% so it’s not just and African thing by a subset of a subset. What about Indonesians or Malaysians? high rates of female mutilation there too but they’re not Africans either. Wherever islam rears it’s ugly head FGM becomes a widespread standard practise.

      • Second time around

        Noted: it seems to be the lower grade (less destructive) version, and has approval from the state. Another reason to avoid Malaysia!

      • IainH

        umm isn’t Egypt in Africa?

        • rua kenana

          Yeah. Technically geographically so maybe. But it also overlaps into the Middle East, viz. Sinai Peninsula.
          The current Egypt population is primarily ethnic Arab. ie. Semitic, from Mid East.
          The original Egyptians, pharaohs etc. that built the pyramids and from whom Moses and the Israelites escaped through the parting of waters etc. eventually got invaded too much and their remnants moved down to the northern Sudan. Their specific ethnic origins are to a large degree unknown, in part because the study of ethnic or racial origins is considered racist.

    • Duchess of Pork

      But the practice is associated with Islam as some Hadiths mention female genital circumcision favourably [Sunan Abu Dawood 41:5251, Sahih Muslim 3:684, Al-Muwatta 2 19.75, Sahih al-Bukhari 7.72:779] and the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence considers it obligatory [Reliance of the Traveller section e4.3] There is a close correlation between Shafi’i Islam and the places where female circumcision is more frequent. The practice was also introduced, along with Shafi’i Islam into South East Asia, a part of the world where it had previously been unknown.

  • Mick Ie

    I’m struggling to understand: please correct me if I am wrong.
    Criticism of female circumsion is now hate speech???
    New Zealand has a long and proud history of fighting for and supporting women rights. Nationally and Internationally.
    Where are the all voices that used to protest against the unacceptable treatment of females?
    Or are they to preoccupied in trying to overthrow the government and send the the country back to the dark ages?

    • Jman

      Well clearly you are a bit confused here. No-one has said criticism of FGM is hate speech.

      A facebook page in favor of FGM was accused of being hate speech.
      Facebook agreed and took down the page.
      SB is now making the point that this totalitarian approach to getting speech we disagree with taken down is troublesome because it can just as easily be used against us.

      Hope that clears things up for you.

  • jimknowsall

    No, not hate speech. To be fair though, that was probably just the closest fit category for reporting a page. Somebody reported it for “hate speech”, probably a tick box category, and FB replied merely that it violated their community standards.

    • Crowgirl

      I’ve had similar inconsistency from them when I reported a clear threat of violence against the PM, and they decided it didn’t violate their standards. I think it just was that the classification I had chosen wasn’t the right one.

  • PersonOfColor:WHITE

    Hate speech is only one step away from thought crime. If we can be censored or censured for saying something, it won’t be long until it happens because of our views (said or unsaid). It would be interesting if there are any anti-FGM facebook pages out there? I am sure someone will know?

  • Observer

    The whole concept of ‘hate speech’ is Orwellian. Sadly it looks like the EU is promoting further clamp downs on online discussion that offends people or groups. Another sign that political set up is moving closer to USSR type totalitarianism.