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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06MANAMA1669 2006-09-18 14:04:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manama
Cable title:  

GOVERNMENT DENOUNCES POPE'S COMMENTS ON ISLAM

Tags:   PREL KISL PGOV PHUM ASEC BA REGION 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAMA 001669 

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/18/2016
TAGS: PREL KISL PGOV PHUM ASEC BA REGION
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT DENOUNCES POPE'S COMMENTS ON ISLAM


Classified By: DCM Susan L. Ziadeh for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (U) The Ministry of Islamic Affairs September 15 issued a
statement on behalf of the government denouncing the Pope's
remarks about Islam, saying such declarations have bad
repercussions on human unity. There should be mutual respect
among all people, regardless of their faith. Muslims have
been known throughout history for their tolerance, wisdom,
and openness to all religions, the statement added.



2. (U) The upper (appointed) chamber of parliament, the
Shura Council, issued a statement September 17 denouncing the
Pope's comments and expressing deep regret for his references
to Islam. The statement said that the Pope's words raised
feelings of outrage and resentment among Arabs and Muslims.



3. (U) All clerics addressed the controversy in their
September 15 Friday prayer sermons. Shia Shaikh Ali Salman,
who is the Secretary General of leading Shia opposition
society Al Wifaq, said Islam was spread through the force of
faith and conviction, and used the sword for defense only.
Islam is a religion of tolerance, openness, and respect. He
asked, Who carried out the Crusades, and engaged in ethnic
cleansing? He hoped the Pope's statement was a mistake.



4. (U) Sunni Shaikh Juma Tawfiq rejected the notion that
Islam was spread by the sword. He said faith, conviction,
peacefulness, ethics, and values are the reason for Islam's
growth. Islam respects other religions, he said, and Muslims
engaged in war only when necessary for defense. Yousef
Haidar, a prominent Bahraini Christian, said that all
Bahrainis, including Catholics, reject the statement of the
Pope.



5. (U) Al Wasat columnist Reem Khalifa September 17
criticized the Pope's statements against Islam and the
Prophet Mohammed. She pointed out that many had believed
that Pope Benedict would reinforce the meaing of tolerance
between religions and cultures,as his predecessor had. Ali
Sayyar of Akhbar AlKhaleej asserted, "The Pope intends to
link Jiha with terrorism, as the American right wing, led by
President Bush, is doing." Sayed Zahra, also ofAkhbar Al
Khaleej, asked September 18 why the Poe had not yet
apologized for his offensive stateent about Islam. He
praised the protests in the Arab street but believes that
they must be accompanied by an official political stance by
Arab governments. He urged Muslim governments to pressure
the Vatican for an apoloy by threatening to withdraw their
Ambassadors.



6. (C) Comment: With the notable exception of clerics and
columnists, thus far reactions to the Pope's comments about
Islam have been relatively muted. There have been no reports
of street protests or other actions. The Ministry of Islamic
Affairs' statement denouncing the Pope's comments appears to
have had its intended effect of keeping a lid on local
reactions.


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