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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05DHAKA2304
2005-05-17 08:36:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Dhaka
Cable title:  

POST RESPONSE TO NEWSWEEK ALLEGATIONS

Tags:   KPAO  BG 
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						UNCLAS DHAKA 002304 

SIPDIS

FOR SA/PPD (SSTRYKER, LSCHWARTZ)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO BG
SUBJECT: POST RESPONSE TO NEWSWEEK ALLEGATIONS


UNCLAS DHAKA 002304

SIPDIS

FOR SA/PPD (SSTRYKER, LSCHWARTZ)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO BG
SUBJECT: POST RESPONSE TO NEWSWEEK ALLEGATIONS



1. The response in Bangladesh to allegations in Newsweek that
the Quran had been desecrated has been less severe than that in
other countries in the region. Although the Foreign Ministry has
called for a full investigation and punishment of the guilty, the
local press has concentrated more on the recent visit by
Assistant Secretary Rocca than on the Newsweek article.
Following the Foreign Ministry statement, Embassy Dhaka has
responded through a press statement printed in local newspapers
and a VOA interview with Ambassador Thomas.


2. Local Reaction: On Friday May 15 between 2,000 and 2,500
people took part in a peaceful demonstration in front of the
National Mosque after Friday prayers protesting the alleged
incident. The Embassy anticipates additional protest activity,
but does not anticipate that it will be violent or will interfere
in Embassy operations.


3. Press statement. The Embassy issued a press statement that
included the statement made by Secretary Rice before the Senate
Appropriations subcommittee as well as a statement by Ambassador
Thomas. The statement was carried in all major Bangladeshi
newspapers on May 16 in some cases on the front page. In many
cases the Embassy statement was run parallel to the Foreign
Ministry statement. In his statement, Ambassador Thomas promised
that the alleged incident would be fully investigated and that
any guilty parties would be punished. He stressed that the
alleged incident is not representative of America which is a
religiously tolerant country in which Muslims freely practice
Islam at more than 1,200 mosques. He noted that Islam is the
fastest growing religion in America.


4. VOA interview: The Ambassador conducted an interview with a
local VOA stringer in which he made the same points as in the
press statement. That story was carried as the lead item on the
evening of May 15.

THOMAS