Aim: further information
TARGET’s GOLDEN BOOK should be distributed exclusively and free of charge to the prayer leaders or imams in the mosques throughout the 35 countries where female genital mutilation occurs. The book and its message, that female genital mutilation is forbidden by religion itself and is indeed a sin, should be used as the basis for a sermon. TARGET is handing it out to imams as well as to local religious representatives. This approach guarantees that it is widely accepted. It is not us, TARGET, who is bringing the message to the people in “countries where mutilation is practised” but their own religious leaders and representatives.
Strategies: with Islam as a partner
Thanks to its previous work with Islam many doors have already been opened in a number of countries. The basis of the campaign is the GOLDEN BOOK with the “Cairo fatwa”. This historic fatwa proscribes the genital mutilation of girls and women as a “criminal offence”. TARGET would like to win over as allies the most prominent spiritual leaders of the affected countries. For this it is vital that they accept the GOLDEN BOOK and its message so they can spread across their own lands. The ulemas, prominent legal scholars, who participated in the international Cairo Conference are standing staunchly behind the book and the campaign and are willing to present it and distribute it in their respective countries. The participants of the Addis Conference 2009 are opening up other doors for TARGET. This changeover is now beginning.
Changeover: One country after another
Step 1 – Countrywide conferences:
TARGET, together with the ulemas, is calling for a conference with the most important spiritual leaders in each country. The GOLDEN BOOK will be presented to them. In that way, TARGET will, in principle, be accompanied by imams who already espouse the book and its ideas. For example at the Addis conference there was both an imam from Mauritania and from Austria. Their support is immensely important since TARGET only sees itself as a facilitator and not as a foreign know-all. The decision to put an end to the female genital mutilation of girls and to use religion to protect them must always and exclusively be taken by individuals within Islam. TARGET sees this as offering the best chance of guaranteeing the credibility and sustainability of the GOLDEN BOOK project.
During the conferences video contributions by important supporters of the campaign will be shown.
At present these are messages from Prof Dr Ali Gom’a (Grand Mufti of Egypt), Prof Dr Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi (Grand Sheikh of Azhar) and Prof Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi (Sheikh from Qatar). Their authority has the greatest influence on the way religious decision makers form their opinions. TARGET has so far always received an unqualified “yes” to the GOLDEN BOOK. The number of copies needed will be determined.
Step 2: Transport/enlarging the audience
The transport/export of the books to the corresponding countries can now begin. As required the GOLDEN BOOK can be translated into the respective national or local languages (currently Amharish/Somali and Afaraf). Checks are being made to see whether the printing might be possible in the respective countries.
A DVD containing speeches by those supporting the campaign (see above) together with excepts from the initial conferences in the respective countries should increase the effect of the GOLDEN BOOK. In order to enable those living in African villages to see the films, TARGET will provide the DVD equipment as necessary.
Step 3: distribution
The distribution of the books and spreading of the message about its contents is taking place through very close co-operation with the scholars of Islam in the respective countries. It is to be expected that each country will have its own specific approach. Rüdiger and Annette Nehberg, who will be present at the initial conference for TARGET in situ, must always remain flexible, carry on learning new things and continue to consider themselves as pioneers.
Distribution differs from country to country. One method involves giving the GOLDEN BOOK to imams at the mosque via a TARGET worker accompanied by a local spiritual leader (as is happening at present in Ethiopia). In places where there are several mosques it can be more suitable to organise a small gathering from which the imams can take away the books.
Another method has been adopted in Mauritania where employees from the Ministry for Families are responsible for distribution and are generally accompanied by spiritual leaders.
Distribution in these countries is very labour, time and cost intensive. However, this means of proceeding seems to us to offer the greatest guarantee that the message from the GOLDEN BOOK will be understood and spread so that it reaches every part of each country.
Step 4: Reviewing the campaign and its sustainability
TARGET stays in close contact with the Islamic scholars on the ground and receives progress reports from them.
Once the GOLDEN BOOKS have found their way into the mosques, TARGET intends to review the success of the campaign. TARGET is planning to arrange for doctors to examine the girls after about three years who live in the communities around the mosques where the GOLDEN BOOK is being handed out.