english   arabic
deutsch   france











Rüdiger Nehberg's "Caravan of Hope" Spreads the Message of the Grand Mufti to End Female Genital Mutilation in Mauritania

There has never been a comparable action in the Islamic world. In the name of his eminence, Grand Mufti Hamden Ould Tah of Mauritania, Rüdiger Nehberg and Annette Weber were able to spread the message developed with him in the Mauritanian desert in spring 2005. For 50 days, twelve camels went from oasis to oasis, from person to person. Bearing the message in white script on green flags:

"Islam says no to female genital mutilation. It is a sin!"

The idea originated with the Grand Mufti personally: "This is the only way to reach the people living in isolated areas."

In December 2004, the Grand Mufti, two of his closest advisors and the mayor of Chinguetti travelled to Hamburg specially to promote this project. At the request of the Hamburg Senate, Rüdiger Nehberg, Annette Weber and the Mauritanian guests made the public aware of their project with the help of a mini caravan of five dromedaries outside Hamburg City Hall. Accompanied by a banner that could not be overlooked: "Islam says NO to female genital mutilation. It is a sin!"

Under the patronage of Ole von Beust (CDU), the caravan was introduced to a press conference by Hamburg's second lady mayor, Birgit Schnieber-Jastram.

The caravan was a great success. Nehberg: "We were overwhelmed by the public, who accompanied the caravan everywhere. The elderly people examined the Grand Mufti's message and practically flung themselves at us when they heard it. Women and girls made their thanks with presents. Our flags fluttered above schools and tents.

Via TV channel El Gezirah the project is also to be disseminated as far as possible in other countries. It is hoped that this will provoke discussions and help to accelerate the end of the tradition.

Hamden Ould Tah: "The politicians in my country are now on board. They have to support the ban legally. The appropriate bill is now being prepared. As soon as it is passed by parliament, I will have my legal opinion announced in all mosques in the country."

Politics has met its obligation. The new Mauritanian head of state Vall used his power and banned mutilation by decree on 5th December 2005. Now the Grand Mufti is on board.