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The GOLDEN BOOK began life in Egypt – the contents of this precious work are based on TARGET’s Cairo conference in 2006.

Annette and Rüdiger Nehberg want to put an end to female genital mutilation by using the power of religion and of Islam itself. To that end it was important for them right from the beginning to obtain an official statement on the matter from Al-Azhar. The German Foreign Ministry arranged a contact for the two Germans in Cairo and on 13 July 2002 they had their first meeting with Egypt’s Minister for Religion, Prof Dr Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs. Zakzouk was persuaded by the Pro-Islamic Alliance set up by his guests and, completely unexpectedly, arranged for them to meet the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Dr Muhamad Sayyid Tantawi, the very same day.

The idea of calling a Scholars Conference on Female Genital Mutilation came from Mauritania’s Grand Mufti, Hamden Ould Tah. Originally the summit was to have been held in Hamburg or Berlin.

Egypt’s Minister for Religion, Prof Dr Zakzouk, considered the subject to be so important that in 2005 he argued for a different location for the meeting, ideally somewhere in Africa. He arranged a further meeting between Annette and Rüdiger Nehberg and Egypt’s Grand Mufti, Prof Dr Ali Gom’a. He was so taken by the suggestion of an International Conference of Islamic Scholars on Female Genital Mutilation that he suggested we use Al-Azhar, the heart of Sunni Islam, for the meeting and even went so far as spontaneously to offer his patronage to the event.

Following the successful Azhar conference, Egypt’s Minister for Religion, Prof Dr Zakzouk immediately had a brochure prepared containing the most important conclusions from the Azhar conference. 90,000 copies were produced. The book was distributed to imams throughout the country.