A conference of Muslim scholars from around the world declared female circumcision to be contrary to Islam and an attack on women, and called Thursday for those who practice it to be punished.
The conference, organized by the German human rights group TARGET, recommended that governments pass laws to prohibit the tradition and that judicial bodies prosecute those who mutilate female genitals.
"The conference appeals to all Muslims to stop practicing this habit, according to Islam's teachings which prohibit inflicting harm on any human being," the participants said in their final statement.
Egypt's two top Islamic clerics, the Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar, Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, the foremost theological institute in the Sunni Muslim world, and Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, attended the conference, which drew scholars from as far afield as Russia. Tantawi's and Gomaa's edicts are considered binding.