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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05NDJAMENA1011
2005-06-27 06:41:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Ndjamena
Cable title:  

A VISIT WITH CHADIAN GRAND IMAM AND THE

Tags:   PGOV  OIIP  KPAO  KIRF  PHUM  KWMN  CD 
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270641Z Jun 05

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FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 1867
AMEMBASSY ABUJA 
AMEMBASSY ACCRA 
AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 
AMEMBASSY BAMAKO 
AMEMBASSY DAKAR 
AMEMBASSY LIBREVILLE 
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
AMEMBASSY NIAMEY 
AMEMBASSY PARIS 
AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE
						UNCLAS  NDJAMENA 001011 

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (ADDING SENSITIVE CAPTION)

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/C
LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA-WATCHERS
INFO AF/PD (DWHITMAN)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV OIIP KPAO KIRF PHUM KWMN CD
SUBJECT: A VISIT WITH CHADIAN GRAND IMAM AND THE
HIGH COUNCIL ON ISLAMIC AFFAIRS




1. (SBU) Summary: During a visit with the High Council
for Islamic Affairs June 20, Chad's Grand Imam welcomed the
Embassy's support for English classes at Muslim schools,
responded positively to statements about charges of abuse
of the Koran at Guantanamo, urged Washington to consider
eventually releasing the prisoners held there, and agreed
to work with the Embassy on the problem of child begging.
The Ambassador's call on the Grand Imam attracted extensive
and favorable media coverage. End Summary



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MUSLIM OUTREACH


--------------------------





2. (SBU) The Ambassador, accompanied by the PAO, spoke to
Grand Imam Haasan Hissein Abkar about continuing
cooperation between the United States and Chad. The
Ambassador highlighted the Embassy's English teaching
micro-scholarship program, which funds English classes for
75 students in three Muslim secondary schools in N'Djamena.
The Grand Imam expressed his gratitude for this program,
and his hopes that it would expand in the future. The
Ambassador also provided the Grand Imam with some
information on Muslim life in America, and the two
discussed the success of this year's visit by the American
Imam Mohamed Bashar Arafat, funded through the
International Visitors program.



--------------------------


KORAN ALLEGATIONS


--------------------------





3. (SBU) The Ambassador also spoke with the Grand Imam,
and the six High Council members present at the meeting,
about the allegations of abuse of the Koran in Guantanamo.
The Ambassador assured the Imam that abuse of the Koran
would not be tolerated. The Ambassador also provided the
Imam with the latest information on the allegations, in
Arabic, from the Washington File. This included a May 11th
statement by Secretary Rice, and a May 14th report on the
initial investigation of the allegations by the Department
of Defense.



--------------------------


IMAM'S REACTION


--------------------------





4. (SBU) Reacting to the Koran abuse allegations, the Imam
first thanked the USG for "allowing the prisoners of
Guantanamo to read their holy book, to practice their
faith, and for preparing their food in accordance with
Muslim practices." The Imam said that the allegations of
abuse of the Koran had "shocked the hearts of more than one
billion Muslims around the world." However, he went on to
state that, "we do not judge the American Government
because of individual behaviors; at the same time these
individual behaviors should be punished by the Government."
The Imam asked to send a message to Washington through the
Ambassador, saying that "for the American Administration to
show [] its kindness to the world, it should free the
prisoners of Guantanamo, as soon as it can be sure that
they will not be killed in their own countries and they
will not return to any kind of terrorist activity."



--------------------------


CHILD BEGGING


--------------------------





5. (SBU) The streets of N'Djamena are often crowded with
children begging. Those carrying small aluminum bowls are
sent out by their Islamic school in search of alms. The
Ambassador raised this issue with the Imam, saying that he
hoped to work with the Imam to find a solution to the
problem. The Imam was receptive to the request, and
suggested that the High Council and the Embassy for a
working group to discuss possible solutions.



--------------------------


MEDIA COVERAGE


--------------------------






6. (SBU) The visit received heavy media coverage. Radio
Nationale du Tchad and FM Al-Koran broadcast news of the -
visit in Standard Arabic, French. and Chadian Arabic.
Television du Tchad (TVT) also covered the visit in both
its French and Arabic evening broadcasts. TVT mentioned
that this was the Ambassador's second visit to the High
Council, and stated that the Imam and the Ambassador
discussed peace, development, and the American-Chadian
friendship. TVT also noted that the Ambassador talked to
the Grand Imam about the success of the Embassy's Muslim
outreach, in particular in the form of the English Language
Program in Muslim schools. The TVT coverage in French also
featured the Ambassador stating that "we will not tolerate
any lack of respect for the Koran," and included footage of
the warm greeting given to the Ambassador by the Grand
Imam, who took the Ambassador's hand as the two walked
through the halls of the Grand Mosque.




--------------------------


COMMENT


--------------------------





7. (SBU) The High Islamic Council in Chad is composed of
moderate Sufi Muslims, and the relationship between the
Council and the Embassy continues to strengthen. Since the
visit, the PAO has received two calls from the Imam's
Secretary General thanking the Ambassador and the PAO for

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the visit. The warm and genial atmosphere of the meeting
is an indication of the successful efforts of the Embassy's
Muslim outreach programs, reflecting a core MPP goal.


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