|07ABIDJAN959||2007-09-12 18:50:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Abidjan|
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UNCLAS ABIDJAN 000959
1. (SBU) Embassy Abidjan completed action requested in
reftel. Here is the biographic information on three
influential Ivoirian Muslim leaders who have favorable views
of the United States and offer an alternative view to Islamic
2. (SBU) El Hadj Aboubacar FOFANA
DOB: February 21, 1943
POB: Cote d'Ivoire
Background: El Hadj Fofana has a diploma in commerce from the
University of Cairo (Jamuatou Kahira). He is a retired
Director of Human Resources at the Societe Ivoirienne de
Banque, the largest Ivoirian bank. He is Imam of the Aghien
Mosque in Abidjan and chairman of the Higher Council of
Imams, the largest association of imams in Cote d'Ivoire. He
speaks Malinke, French, Arabic, and English.
Imam Aboubacar Fofana is one of the most prominent and
influential leaders of the Muslim community in Cote d'Ivoire.
He is one of the architects of the current organization of
the Muslim community and the modernization of the teaching
and practice of Islam in Cote d'Ivoire. He was also at the
root of the creation of the various Muslim associations:
Muslim Students, Associations (AEEMCI), Muslim Women,s
Associations, the National Islamic Council (CNI), the Ivorian
League of Muslim Preachers (LIPCI) and the Higher Council of
In 2002, Imam Aboubacar Fofana was selected by Post to
participate in the International Visitors, Program. However,
a few days before his return to Cote d'Ivoire, the September
19, 2002 war broke out and an imam was killed by
pro-government militias while others received death threats.
Imam Aboubacar Fofana believed that he would be the next imam
killed because he was the spokesperson for COSIM and
therefore for the Muslim community. Imam Fofana has publicly
denounced the treatment of Ivoirian Muslims and had been
accused of fomenting the rebellion.
Imam Aboubacar Fofana decided to remain in the US and to
apply for asylum. He spent four years in the U.S. where he
reorganized the Ivorian as well as the West African Muslim
community. On April 25, 2006, Imam Fofana was designated
chairman of COSIM by its members. He therefore returned to
Cote d,Ivoire on October 25, 2006 after four years of exile
in the United States to assume the role of supreme guide of
Muslims in Cote d,Ivoire.
3. (SBU) El Hadj Idriss Koudoss KONE
DOB: March 13, 1948
POB: Cote d'Ivoire
Background: Imam Kone has a diploma in financial and economic
studies from the National School of Administration of Rabat,
Morocco. He is a retired civil servant and former State
budget auditor at the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Kone
is the Imam of the Bilal Mosque in Abidjan and is the
Chairman of the Executive Board of the National Islamic
Council (CNI), the largest federation of Muslim associations.
He is a member of COSIM; Chairman of the Board of
Administration of the National Committee for Organizing the
Pilgrimage to Mecca (CNOPM); Chairman of the Board of
Administration of Radio Al Bayane; Chairman of the Board of
Administration of the Islamic Religious Schools Group (IQRA).
Since 2005, Imam Kone has been a member of the Executive
Committee for the Support to the World Congress of Imams and
Rabbis for Peace. He is also a member of the World General
Assembly for the Convergence of Islamic Legal Schools and a
member of the Collective of Religious Confessions for Peace.
Imam Kone speaks French and Arabic.
As chairman of the largest federation of Islamic
associations, El Hadj Idriss Koudouss Kone is a highly
visible and influential leader of the Muslim community in
Cote d'Ivoire. He serves as an intermediary between the
government and the Muslim community and between the
international community and the Ivoirian Muslim community.
As such, he is very often invited by important Christian
groups to participate in conferences in Europe on interfaith
dialogue between Christians and Muslims. He has also been
invited to international seminars on the various Islamic
legal schools in the Arab world. Imam Kone was instrumental
with a few other religious and NGO leaders in preventing
outbreak of war on September 19, 2002 in Cote d'Ivoire from
becoming a war between Christians and Muslims.
4. (SBU) El Hadj Djiguiba CISSE
POB: Cote d'Ivoire
Background: Imam Cisse has a Bachelor's degree in English
from the University of Abidjan, a diploma from the Arabic
Language Institute in Saudi Arabia, and a Bachelor of Arts
from the King Abdul Aziz University in Saudi Arabia. He is a
member of several prominent social organizations including
the National Committee Against AIDS, the National Committee
against the Worst Forms of Traditional Practices. He is a
founding member of the National Forum of Religious Groups in
Cote d'Ivoire. Imam Cisse is imam of the Plateau Mosque in
Abidjan. He is also Vice President of the National Islamic
Council, spokesman for COSIM, Director General of Radio Al
Bayane, and founder of the most important Islamic
humanitarian NGO in Cote d'Ivoire, the Djigui Foundation. He
speaks Malinke, French and English.
As Imam of the Plateau Mosque (since 1988), Deputy
Spokesperson, then Spokesperson for the COSIM (since 1998 and
2006), Vice President of the National Islamic Council (since
1993), host of nationally televised Islamic Information
Programs (since 1988), and Director General of Radio Al
Bayane (since 2001), Imam Cisse is a highly visible and
influential leader of Ivorian Muslims.
His influence is far reaching because very knowledgeable,
articulate and open-minded. He is often invited by national
and international organizations as well as by the government
to participate in conferences in Cote d,Ivoire and abroad on
various issues including interfaith dialogue between
Christians and Muslims and national reconciliation. Imam
Cisse is also well-respected by young middle class Ivoirian
Muslims because through his foundation, he fought against the
harmful traditional practices that prevalent in the Ivoirian
Muslim community (i.e., forced and early marriage for young
girls, lack of schooling for young Muslim girls, and female
genital mutilation (FGM)).
Imam Cisse well and favorably known to the US Embassy. In
1995, Post selected him to participate in an International
Visitors, Program on Ethnicity and Pluralism in the United
States. In 2005, his foundation, the Djiguiba Foundation
received ESF funding to carry out public awareness campaigns
about FGM and other harmful traditional practices in Abidjan.