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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09DAKAR1027 2009-08-07 12:07:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Dakar
Cable title:  

SENEGAL: RELIGIOUS BROTHERHOODS' GROWING INFLUENCE ON

Tags:   PGOV PINS KDEM SOCI PHUM SG 
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VZCZCXRO7402
OO RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #1027/01 2191207
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 071207Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2910
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1248
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0406
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DAKAR 001027 

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE FOR AF/W, AF/RSA, DRL/AE AND INR/AA

PARIS AND LONDON FOR AFRICA WATCEHRS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINS KDEM SOCI PHUM SG
SUBJECT: SENEGAL: RELIGIOUS BROTHERHOODS' GROWING INFLUENCE ON
UNIVERSITY CAMPUSES



1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Senegal's public universities have enjoyed a long
history of religious tolerance and secularism. During the past
decade, however, they have witnessed an unprecedented growth of
religious identity and expression. The dominance and influence of
Sufi Muslim brotherhoods and the less mystical and more legalistic
Ibadus on university campuses has created a unique microcosm which
has sometimes led to violent conflict among the sects' younger
followers. Growing evidence points to a departure from the
post-independence secular separation of mosque and state in
Senegalese higher education in favor of a growing role of religion
in daily campus life. END SUMMARY.

THE GOOD OLD DAYS


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





2. (SBU) Senegal's long tradition of secularism in education can be
traced back to its first President, Lopold Sedar Senghor. As a
former professor, his views on education emphasized a secular French
education based on the arts and sciences. As a result, the
Senegalese tertiary education system flourished as a bastion of
tolerance focused on "educational enlightenment." In the past
decade, a growing segment of the student body has embraced a more
contrarian view based solely around religious devotion. With this,
a lack of respect for divergent beliefs has caused tensions to mount
between various groups. A University Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD)
English professor said that "Students never saw religion as an issue
and it was hardly considered a controversy on campus. There have
always been students within the university system who embraced
somewhat radical leanings; however it was always around political
ideology (i.e., socialist versus communist parties). The religious
tension evident today goes against the traditional university way of
thinking."

US VERSUS THEM


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





3. (SBU) Religious organizations have established their presence
within campus life to a degree that has never been seen before.
Students are encouraged to join based on their allegiance to a
brotherhood. Once established within a group, members adhere to a
new identity that transcends education within the university. The
largest groups consist of various splinter organizations within the
Mouride and Tijiane Sufi Islamic brotherhoods. Another growing
segment on university campuses are the Ibadu. (NOTE: The Ibadu
adhere to a stricter, legalistic Sunni interpretation of Islam and
have gained a presence on several campuses. They abhor the Islamic
brotherhoods, which are oriented around the veneration of saints and
are relatively more mystical, as going against the true teachings of
the Koran. END NOTE.) The Ibadus on UCAD's campus are advocates of
single-sex dormitories rooms and more modest dress for all female
students. Reports of students from other nations espousing radical
Islamic views on campus could not be fully corroborated. Poloff
received several reports of various students being taunted due to
their divergent religious beliefs while a UCAD Christian group
alleged that several of their fliers were ripped off walls by
Islamic brotherhood members. Another recent trend is loud religious
Tijiane chanting lasting well into the night that disrupts other
students, and praying on the floors of various academic buildings.

VIOLENCE ON CAMPUS


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





4. (SBU) A recent incident at the University of Bambey (in Diourbel,
northwestern Senegal, 146 kilometers from Dakar) highlights the
growing tension on Senegalese campuses. A campus event sponsored by
the Tijiane brotherhood turned violent after a Tijiane-invited guest
began making controversial statements against other religious
groups. Tijiane students were also found to be spreading materials
during the event accusing the Mourides of Freemasonry (NOTE:
Freemasonry is viewed very suspiciously in some sectors of
Senegalese society which consider it incompatible with Islam. END
NOTE.) Several students were injured as a result of rocks and other
objects being hurled between the two groups. Tensions were diffused
after the school administration and a Mouride caliph were dispatched
to calm tensions between the irate students.

OTHER INCIDENTS


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





5. (SBU) Another recent incident at UCAD witnessed Tchantacune
students attacking a campus security guard after they were asked to
lower their voices while chanting evening prayers. (The Tchantacune
are an armed militant branch of the Mourides with a following among
poor urban youth.) Poloff has also received reports of student
tension revolving around control of campus mosques. (NOTE: The

DAKAR 00001027 002 OF 002


Ibadus built and run the mosque on the UCAD campus, but in 2006
tension erupted when Tijiane students attempted to gain control of
the mosque. University of Bambey officials are wary of building a
mosque for this reason in spite of Ibadu students having funds to
build one. END NOTE.)

COMMENT


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





6. (SBU) Strong indications point to a concerted effort by the
Muslim brotherhoods and other groups towards imposing their
respective wills upon university campuses. With this, a general
lack of tolerance and respect for divergent religious views has
pervaded Senegalese university campuses. The feeling that one's
outlook is superior to another's has resulted in skirmishes. These
incidents can be considered part of a larger trend within Senegal's
younger generation towards handling sectarian differences with
confrontation instead of tolerance. President Senghor's hope of
establishing a secular model of higher education is further from
realization than before.

SMITH