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Campaigning against female genital mutilation
Article in images

Calling for an end to female genital mutilation


Thousands of girls daily are subjected to FGM. Activists are hoping a new fatwa will help put an end to the practice. © Target
Thousands of girls daily are subjected to FGM. Activists are hoping a new fatwa will help put an end to the practice. © Target
It is fates like Aisha’s that the German human rights activist Rüdiger Nehberg cites in his fight against female genital mutilation. He is keen to illustrate that such a practice cannot be justified by Islam, even if there is a persistent belief that corresponding instructions can be found in the Koran. The origin for this is probably to be found in the Hadiths, pronouncements and traditional sayings ascribed to the prophet Mohammed.

Nehberg and other opponents of FGM, on the other hand, point out that the respective Hadiths are weak and unreliable, and that Mohammed's daughters were not circumcised or mutilated. Nehberg argues that the Koran praises the creation of both man and woman by Allah: "Sura 95, Verse 4 states, 'We have created man in the most perfect image' – and man must not presume to destroy this creation."

"I wanted to call together leading Islamic clerics for them to condemn female genital mutilation," Nehberg says. His idea became reality in November 2006. At the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, one of the most respected educational institutions in the Islamic world, the most eminent Islamic scholars from around the world came together for a two-day conference. At the end of the conference, after occasionally heated discussions, female genital mutilation was condemned as irreconcilable with Islam by a ruling issued by the Islamic scholars, a fatwa.

But how to convey this to the many millions of people in some three dozen countries, who often live in the remotest areas? Nehberg developed the idea of the "Golden Book," a small, elaborately designed book with a firm fold-over cover, a magnetic clasp in green (the color of Islam), with gold embossing and pages edged in gold. It contains the fatwa, speeches by the scholars, as well as the most common prejudices on the topic and their refutation – in Arabic, English, French and German. The core messages are also illustrated in pictures.


Women in Focus Editor
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