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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04DJIBOUTI578 2004-04-18 14:20:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
Cable title:  

MINISTER OF AWQAF AND ISLAMIC AFFAIRS: RELIGIOUS

Tags:   PREL PGOV PHUM PINR SOCI SA DJ 
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L DJIBOUTI 000578 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF AND AF/E

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/15/2014
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PINR SOCI SA DJ
SUBJECT: MINISTER OF AWQAF AND ISLAMIC AFFAIRS: RELIGIOUS
EXTREMISM NOT IN DJIBOUTI'S NATURE

Classified By: AMBASSADOR MARGUERITA D. RAGSDALE.
REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D).



1. (C) Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Mogueh Samatar
Dirir described to Ambassador, during her courtesy call April
7, the role of his ministry as one of having authority over
all Islamic issues affecting Djibouti. These issues include
the manner in which mosques and religious schools should
operate. Its central difficulty, as a relatively new ministry
(2 years of age), he said, is the lack of necessary resources
to implement all the programs in its pipeline.



2. (C) Ambassador inquired about the role of the High Islamic
Council that the Ministerial Council recently established,
under the chairmanship of the Minister of Islamic Affairs.
The Minister affirmed the plan for a High Islamic Council and
said its mandate is to give advice to the Government on all
issues and concerns of a religious nature. It will also take
charge of and coordinate the activities of all Islamic
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) present in Djibouti,
although he did not clarify how this would be done or how the
additional portfolio overlaps with current ministerial
operations. The Minister added, however, that the council
would need adequate material assistance to fully function in
the manner the Ministerial Council envisioned.



3. (C) Dirir expressed regret that funding his ministry had
previously received from Saudi Arabia had now diminished. He
cited as a cause the general political and economic
constraints on Saudi assistance worldwide that have followed
the events of September 11, 2001 in the United States. He
cautioned, however, that such support in the past was never
used for extremist purposes. Extremism in Djibouti is not
likely, he continued, because of the calm and non-extremist
nature of Djiboutians and because their traditions dictate
that they think and behave otherwise. Dirir added that
Djiboutians have never been easily influenced by foreign
ideology. He said the majority of the country's Muslims
followed the moderate Shafi'i school of religious thought,
although the Kadiri branch of Sufism is also present.



4. (C) Asked about government oversight of mosque operations,
Dirir said that in Djibouti, each imam of a mosque is
currently free to preach on any topic he wishes. However,
the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs is planning to
begin monitoring and controlling these sermons. He said this
is important to ensure that imams do not tout ideas that
might be interpreted, either by others or by Djiboutians, as
extremist.



5. (C) On women's issues, the Minister said his ministry
does not yet have, but is planning to have, a family
education department that would be dedicated exclusively to
issues of women in Islam. For now, the Awqaf ministry fully
supports the agenda of the Ministry of Women's Affairs,
co-located in the same building with the Ministry of Awqaf
and Islamic Affairs.



6. (C) BIO-DATA: Somali by origin, Dirir is believed to have
been born in Ethiopia. He speaks Arabic and Somali, but only
limited French. He was appointed Djibouti's first "Qadi"
(religious judge) after its independence from France in 1977
and served in that position until his appointment as Minister
in 2002.
RAGSDALE