July 2007: The Afar impose harsh penalties on Female Genital Mutilation
The Afar have introduced exemplary tribal legal sentences following the decision against Female Genital Mutilation of the Scholars Conference in Cairo in November 2006.
First TARGET Desert Conference - Ethiopia, Assayta, 31/01/2002
With support from Sultan Ali Mirah Hanfary from the people
of Afar (1.6 million people in Ethiopia) TARGET was able to
arrange the first TARGET desert conference on 31/01/2002.
Rüdiger got to know the Afar in 1977, when he crossed
the Danakil Desert with his own caravan. He knew that these
people practised the worst form of Female Genital Mutilation.
He led the first trip back to these people with Annette Weber
after TARGET was founded in 2001. They documented the barbaric
ritual and made contact with Sultan Hanfary. They were able
to attract him to the Pro-Islamic Alliance (see menu item
of same name).
The 58 tribal leaders, the Senior Council for Islamic Affairs
and a representative from the Health Ministry were invited
to this conference in the Danakil Desert. However, it was
not just the invited guests who appeared, but more than one
thousand people! Above all women.
The Sheikhs Mohamed Darassa Moussa and Ismail Abdallah Ismail
from the Senior Council for Islamic Affairs in the Afar region:
"There has never been a gathering of this size here.
And certainly not on such a topic. This must be a turning
point in our history."
The vote took place after two days of long, courageous and
very moving discussions. It was a sensation. An unanimous
decision. Not one dissenting vote, no abstentions. You can
access the entire decision text using the aforementioned link.
Sheikh Darassa announced the result: "In the name of
gracious and merciful God! The Administration of the Senior
Council for Islamic Affairs in the Province of Afar hereby
declares that the ancient, inherited, bad tradition of the
Afar peoples of female circumcision and treatment of the genitals
is not compatible with the Islamic Shari'a and general human
nature. It is banned immediately, judges are obligated to
implement the commands and to report offenders."
Adepts seem to be sure that the new fatwa (legal opinion)
will be followed. "Tribal law has always been superior
to state (Ethiopian) law," guarantees Abdul Khader, ex-fighter
of the Afar Liberation Front. And for Sultan Ali Mirah
Hanfary, it is just a matter of time, "until the law
also finds its way to our Afar brothers and sisters in the
neighbouring countries of Eritrea and Djibouti."
He was the last to sign the new law and did so in the presence
of Dr Pohl, representative of the German Embassy in Addis
Sheikh Darassa expressed joy on the decision with a letter
of thanks to TARGET (see link above). Extract: "This
initiative of TARGET was very positive and very important
with regards to changing the life of the Afar. Many thanks
and our respect!"
We would now like to extend these thanks to all patrons,
friends and supporters of TARGET. This TARGET desert conference
became a pilot project. What has been possible here must be
feasible in other places. Right to Mecca - our vision.