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06RABAT1621 2006-08-31 15:37:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Rabat
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1. (SBU) Summary: Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, the popular
Egyptian cleric, visited Morocco in late August. A guest of
the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), the Sheikh
addressed several large gatherings of Moroccan youth,
lambasting the U.S. and Israel and calling for a boycott of
American products. The Sheikh,s boycott calls were repeated
in an editorial in the PJD,s Arabic daily, which named
several prominent U.S. firms that allegedly gave &12 percent
of their profits8 to Israel. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, the Egyptian-born cleric
best known in the Arab World for his weekly religious affairs
show on Al-Jazeera TV, and perhaps best known in the West for
his fatwas sanctioning the killing of American soldiers in
Iraq, and acts of terror against Israelis, visited Morocco in
the last week of August. Qaradawi came at the invitation of
the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) which won 42
of 325 seats in the Moroccan parliament in the 2002 elections
and is expected to make a strong showing in the late 2007
parliamentary polls. Qaradawi addressed crowds at
PJD-organized events in Tangiers on August 26 and Meknes on
August 28.

3. (C) Qaradawi,s talk in Tangiers was attended by at least
3000 Moroccans - mainly young adults. POL FSN, visiting
Tangiers August 26, was unable to get inside the auditorium,
which was filled beyond capacity. GOM security at the event
appeared low-key and relaxed. In Meknes, on August 28, the
Sheikh addressed members of the PJD,s youth wing. As
relayed in the PJD,s Arabic daily &Al-Tajdid,8 the Sheikh
used his talk in Meknes to lambaste the U.S. and Israel and
call for a boycott of U.S. products.

4. (SBU) &For the sake of Palestine and Lebanon, boycott
American products,8 Qaradawi urged his audience. &The Bush
administration, which has rushed to send laser-guided bombs
to Israel, has been blocking international efforts to press
for an immediate cease-fire...If we can,t go and fight
alongside our brothers in Lebanon and Palestine, let,s
support them with money and deal a blow to the economies of
their enemies,8 the paper quoted him as saying, adding that
he cited the &successful8 Muslim boycott of Danish products
in the wake of the early 2006 cartoon scandal.

5. (SBU) Al-Tajdid picked up and expanded on Qaradawi,s
boycott theme in its August 31 edition, with a front page
editorial alleging that Coca-Cola, McDonald,s, Pepsi, and
Marlboro are sending 12 percent of their profits to Israel.
The piece further alleged that the President of Starbucks
Coffee had publicly vowed to double his company,s donations
to Israel so that it could &kill those animals in Lebanon.8
The editorial lamented that other big U.S. firms, such as
Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken, remain popular with
Moroccan consumers in spite of U.S. support for Israel and
urged Arab and Muslim readers to start boycotting all U.S.
products now.

6. (C) Comment: Qaradawi,s warm reception by the PJD and
Islamist youth reflect the resonance that his brand of Islam,
and emotional reactions to violence in Lebanon and Palestine,
are finding in parts of Moroccan society. At the same time,
public awareness of his visit is limited ) it was pointedly
not covered on State TV or in the pro-government press.
Calls to boycott U.S. products are not new here. It is too
early to say whether this latest round will have any
measurable impact. End comment.

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