Awarding of the 2006 Hamburg Citizen’s Award to Rüdiger Nehberg
It was the best birthday present imaginable: on his 72nd birthday in the Town Hall’s banqueting room before 500 guests, Hamburg’s First Mayor, Ole von Beust, awarded him Hamburg’s CDU Party Citizen’s Award. This award worth 2,000 Euros, is very prestigious and was bestowed on Rüdiger Nehberg together with Annette Weber for their actions to strengthen human rights in the world and in particular for their tireless commitment in fighting female genital mutilation.
Special praise was given for their co-operation with Islam.
TARGET achieved a breakthrough on 23rd November 2006 during a conference it organised at the Al-Azhar in Cairo, the spiritual heart of Sunni Islam, when leading Islamic scholars outlawed female genital mutilation as a criminal offence, describing it as a violation of the highest values of Islam. This decision taken under the patronage of the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Prof. Dr Gom'a, is unprecedented in the history of religion. Prof. Dr. Imeyer, Chairman of the independent Citizen’s Award Jury said in his speech: “Even the UN or UNICEF have never succeeded where you have. In matters such as these what are sometimes needed are individual initiatives“.
Nehberg pointed out that “this decision must now be communicated throughout the world”. This August the message is due to be passed on by means of a conference in Mali that will bring together the most prominent religious leaders from the 35 countries in which FGM is practised. “Our patron has promised to open the conference and convince his colleagues to agree to the fatwa or religious ruling”. Soon each one of the million mosques located in the countries concerned will receive a precious little leather-bound book containing the fatwa and be obliged to communicate the message during Friday prayers. “When you consider that just €3, the cost of one little book, can protect the girls in a whole village from a terrible fate, then it shouldn’t be difficult to raise such a paltry sum of money”.
To standing ovation, Gerd-Winand Imeyer seemed to agree with Nehberg’s plans: “This is a first in the 25-year history of the award and proves that we made the right decision in our choice”. In conclusion Nehberg said: “I didn’t win this prize alone and I shall share it with three others without whom the project would never have been successful. They are Grand Mufti Prof. Dr. Ali Gom'a, the Egyptian Minister Prof. Dr. Zakzouk and my partner Annette Weber. This may appear very self effacing of me, but in fact it is very selfish: a pleasure shared is a pleasure multiplied”.
Assuming the Mali conference will be successful, as expected, Nehberg will nominate the Grand Mufti for the Nobel Peace Prize. “His involvement is the chief prerequisite to putting an end to the biggest “civil war” of all time that results in 8,000 new victims per day”.