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Second TARGET Desert Conference - Mauritania, Nouakchott, 28/07/2004

The second TARGET desert conference took place under the care of the Grand Mufti of Mauritania, his Eminence Hamden Ould Tah. From the outset it was different, as the circle of participants was small. This included:

From Mauritania:

  • His Eminence Grand Mufti Hamden Ould Tah, first chairman of the Mauritanian Scholars
  • Dr. Haimoud Ould Ramdan, Minister for Justice
  • Bal Mohamed El Bechir, Imam
  • Baba Ould Mata, Scholar
  • A doctor
  • A feminist
  • An interpreter
  • 12 journalists


  • Annette Weber
  • Rüdiger Nehberg

As observers:

  • Rüdiger Schulz, Charge d'Affaires from the German Embassy
  • Hubertus Spieker, Honorary Consul Mauritania

The conference was made substantially easier by TARGET's references from Azhar University (see also Al-Azhar/Cairo), a letter of recommendation from the German Orient Institute in Hamburg, the six-minute film on the crime of Female Genital Mutilation, the result of the first TARGET desert conference in Ethiopia and the doctor's speech. He made unmistakeably clear what massive harm this causes to women's health.

After a few hours of discussion, the Ethiopian decisions were followed.

Grand Mufti Hamden Ould Tah declared: "Female circumcision is a tradition of pre-Islamic peoples, in no way a religious command and unacceptable across the whole world."

The Minister for Justice guaranteed his help to accelerate an already planned law. At that time, Female Genital Mutilation was still legal. In the meantime it has taken place - under head of state Ely Ould Muhammad Vall - by presidential decree on 05/12/2005.

The daily newspaper L'Eveil recognised the conference on 03/08/2004 with the headline: "An Islamic Commitment!"

We experienced a particular vote of confidence when some participants spontaneously announced their desire to join TARGET. We declared them honorary members and awarded them TARGET Medals of Honour (see "Medals of Honour" menu item, left side).

As the crowning glory we were able to write the entire text of the fatwa on a five-metre long banner and fly it on the old pilgrim's mosque at Chinguetti. The mosque is the seventh largest holy place of Islam. For TARGET, the festive act was a general test for Mecca. Imam Abd-Er Rahim Hajji: "Not even a poster has ever been allowed here before."

The City of Chinguetti awarded Annette Weber and Rüdiger Nehberg with honorary citizenship (see link above).