Cairo court rejects lawsuit against CNN in genital mutilation caseMAE GHALWASH , Associated Press
Aug. 30, 1997 12:58 PM ET
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ A court on Saturday rejected a $500 million lawsuit against CNN that claimed the network had damaged Egypt's reputation by airing footage of a barber performing ritual genital cutting on a 10-year-old girl.
Judge Alaa Abbas said lawyer Mustafa Ashoub had no legal grounds to file the case against Atlanta-based Cable News Network since he was not directly harmed and was not related to the girl, Nagla Fathy.
Ashoub filed the case against the network and one of its Egyptian reporters in his own name and on behalf of the girl's father, Fathy Hamza.
The judge said Hamza had no case against CNN because he had agreed to the filming. Hamza had told the court that he was not aware that the tape would be aired on television. CNN International aired footage in September 1994 showing Nagla screaming as a barber cut away her clitoris.
``When CNN dealt with this bad tradition and aired it on its network, it did not make a mistake by making ugly what is truly ugly,'' the court said in a decision signed by three judges. ``The role of the media is to show people the problems that face society.''
CNN spokesman Howard Polskin said the network was pleased with the court's decision. ``CNN has always stood behind its report,'' he said.
Ashoub said he would raise a new lawsuit in Nagla's name.
Egyptian Health Minister Ismail Sallam has banned the procedure, also known as female circumcision or genital mutilation, in hospitals and clinics.
The ritual cutting ranges from cutting the hood of the clitoris to removing it entirely along with tissue surrounding the vaginal opening. It can cause hemorrhaging, scar tissue, cysts and sexual and childbirth difficulties.
It is typically performed on girls between 8 and 12 years old. Many believe it curbs sexual appetite or enhances cleanliness.