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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06KUWAIT4640 2006-12-13 08:28:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Kuwait
Cable title:  

PROGRAM EVALUATION: SSI SPEAKER IMAM SOHAIB SULTAN VISIT TO

Tags:   KPAO OEXC OIIP SCUL XF KU ISLAMISTS 
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1. FY06Q4 GPRA SUMMARY: Trinity College's Imam Sohaib Sultan
visited Kuwait as a Strategic Speaker Initiative spokesperson
conducting a four-day tour from September 16 - 20, 2006. Imam
Sultan discussed the status and history of Muslims in America, with
diverse audiences, including more than 250 students at the Universal
American (High) School, American University of Kuwait (AUK), Gulf
University for Sciences and Technology (GUST) and Kuwait
University's College of Arts, History and Social Sciences. Imam
Sultan also met with officials at the Kuwait Ministry of Awqaf and
Islamic Affairs and with Muslim leaders and intellectuals at a
special gathering hosted by the Deputy Chief of Mission at his
residence. He stressed moderation in Islam and the importance of
dialogue and linking people from America and the Islamic world.
Imam Sultan delivered a moving address at the Post's Alumni USA
event, took part in a press roundtable, and appeared on Al-Rai
satellite TV. Positive coverage of the roundtable discussion and
other events appeared in all Arabic and English Kuwaiti dailies.
END SUMMARY.

Encouraging Dialogue and Understanding


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





2. Imam Sultan spoke on multiple topics including the history of
Islam in the U.S., American-Muslim organizations, contemporary
scholarship among American-Muslim scholars, moderation in Islam, and
interfaith dialogue.



3. On September 17, Imam Sultan addressed a group of 160 high
school students and teachers at the Universal American School. He
spoke about the challenges of growing up in today's world, stressing
the need for interfaith dialogue and improving relations between
people in the east in the west, as both have profound misconceptions
about the other. The students asked a barrage of diverse and
thoughtful questions, showing their interest and connection with the
speaker, including challenging the legitimacy of suicide bombings.
Imam Sultan argued that they are antithetical to Islamic teaching
and, therefore, are forbidden. Regarding the Pope's comments, the
Hartford Seminary master's degree candidate on Christian-Muslim
relations encouraged Muslims to accept the Pope's apology and enter
into a dialogue to maintain the beneficial ties generally held
between Muslim and Catholics in America, and on the
Palestinian-Israeli crises.

Opening New Doors


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





4. Imam Sultan also visited the Quran Learning and Recitation
Center in the distant town of Sulaybikhat. Arranged by the Ministry
of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, this was the first such visit by
Embassy Officers or visitors. He observed the Quranic recitation
classes and spoke with the center's leaders about the goals and
purpose of their programs. He also had a series of high-level
meetings at Kuwait's state Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs.
He met with the Assistant Undersecretary for Hajj Affairs and the
Head of Fatwa and Research at the Ministry. They informed the
visitor of the GOK's conference for American Muslim leaders on
moderation in Islam in Washington, D.C., November 17-19, 2006.

Tackling Tough Questions


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





5. Imam Sultan delivered lectures at the History Department and
Shari'a College as well as a discourse at the American Corner at
Kuwait University, which was attended by a record number of more
than 50 male and female students. He also spoke at the private
American University of Kuwait (AUK) and over 40 students and faculty
attended his lecture at Gulf University for Science and Technology
(GUST). Questions focused on perceived anti-Muslim policies in
America, such as wire-tapping and racial profiling. Imam Sultan
explained that these issues were under debate in America as well and
that the American-Muslim community has been outspoken in defending
the rights of Muslims through institutions such as the Council on
American-Islamic Relations (www.cairnet.org), and that
American-Muslims have the right and freedom to disagree with certain
U.S. government policies.

Linking East and West


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





6. Imam Sultan took part in a special "diwaniya" gathering at the
Deputy Chief of Mission's Residence attended by an audience of 20
influential and conservative Muslims (including conservative
"Islamist" leaders and writers.) Imam Sultan described the
development of Muslim thought in America and contemporary trends,
which includes a rise and return to traditional teachings. He cited
organizations such as the Zaytuna and Nawawi Foundations, as new
centers dedicated to reviving traditional scholarship based on the
concept of moderation as a requirement in Islamic teaching. He also

KUWAIT 00004640 002 OF 002


met with liberal leaders of the Kuwait Youth Organization to
encourage them to reach out to their peers in the U.S. to increase
mutual understanding between Americans and Kuwaitis.

Message of Tolerance Receives a Welcoming Response


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



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





7. A young, soft-spoken and appealing speaker, Imam Sultan easily
connected with Post's target audiences of all ages. The questions
and answers session at lectures lasted longer than expected, and he
often lingered after programs ended to discuss ideas with students
hungering for answers to a range of critical questions. He
successfully delivered the message that Muslims in America have full
rights, the friendship of other religious groups, and the number of
Muslims in America continues to grow and integrate well with
American society--ideas often in question in the Muslim world
outside of the U.S.

...And, Outstanding Media Coverage


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




8. Overall, press coverage of the Imam's visit was excellent,
including broad reporting of his roundtable discussion with
journalists, his university lectures and his visit to the Ministry
of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs.

09/19/06 The Daily Star p. 2 1/8 page
09/19/06 Kuwait Times p. 6 1/8 page
09/19/06 Arab Times p. 3 1/8 page 1 photo
09/19/06 Al-Seyassah p. 8 1/4 page 1 photo
09/19/06 Al-Anbaa p. 12 1/2 page 2 photos
09/19/06 Al-Watan p. 12 1/2 page 1 photo
09/19/06 Al-Rai Al-Aam p. 20 1/2 page 1 photo
09/19/06 Al-Qabas p. 10 1/2 page 2 photos
09/21/06 Al-Anbaa p. 19 1/16 page 1 photo
09/21/06 Arab Times p. 2 1/4 page 1 photo
09/21/06 Al-Qabas p. 14 1/4 page 2 photos
09/21/06 Al-Seyassah p. 9 1/4 page 1 photo
09/28/06 Kuwait Times p. 3 1/8 page 1 photo

Superb Choice of Speaker


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





9. Post thanks IIP/G/NEA for arranging Imam Sultan's visit to
Kuwait, as a U.S. Strategic Initiative Speaker. His extended
five-day program coincided with the visit of Dr. Sarah Brewer from
American University, and other Public Affairs programs, including
the Embassy's USG Program Alumni Networking Event held on September


17. This took place during the first week of the academic year and
a few days before the start of Ramadan. Imam Sultan was an engaging
and enthusiastic interlocutor for Kuwaiti target audiences as well
as an exceptional active listener. PA Kuwait highly recommends Imam
Sultan to other posts in the region.

LEBARON