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