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Cablegate: Coastal Muslim Leadership Views: Sheikh Dor

VZCZCXRO5927
RR RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHGI RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHPW RUEHROV
DE RUEHNR #1150/01 0711226
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 121226Z MAR 07 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8170
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 0879

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 NAIROBI 001150

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

ACCRA FOR NAN STEWART
DEPT FOR AF/E AND INR/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC KE KISL KPAO PGOV PHUM
SUBJECT: COASTAL MUSLIM LEADERSHIP VIEWS: SHEIKH DOR

REF: NAIROBI 628

NAIROBI 00001150 001.5 OF 004


1. (SBU) Summary: Sheikh Dor, a vocal leader of Kenya's
coastal Muslim community, harangues the USG and GoK, cites
some legitimate grievances concerning biased treatment of his
community by the GoK, praises the American people and
threatens to disrupt the World Cross Country Championship in
Mombasa. The coastal Muslim community represents six percent
of Kenya's population. The Swahili/Arab component of the
coastal Muslim community (about 60 percent) closely
identifies with events in the Middle East, while the
remainder of the community does not. End Summary.

2. (SBU) PolCouns recently met with Sheikh Muhummad
Dormuhammad (popularly referred to as "Sheikh Dor") in
Mombasa. Sheikh Dor is the Secretary General of the Council
of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK). He regularly
chastises the U.S. and the Government of Kenya (GoK) for
various "crimes" in his press statements and mosque sermons.
Along with Professor Busaidy of the Supreme Council of Kenyan
Muslims (SUPKEM), he is one of the most prominent Muslim
community spokesmen in Kenya. Dor came to the interview
armed with a large binder full of news clippings about
alleged police abuse of Kenyan Muslims, the purported
anti-Muslim bias of the GoK, and the supposed anti-Muslim
agenda of U.S. foreign policy.

Dor Presents his Grievances
---------------------------

3. (SBU) Sheikh Dor made the following points:

-- Kenya's Muslims are a marginalized community, treated by
the GoK and society in general as second class citizens or
even as non-citizens. They must go to great lengths to
receive their basic rights as citizens, such as provision of
national identification cards, voter cards and passports,
while those in the Christian community have no such
difficulty. (Comment: This is a very common complaint by
Muslims throughout the country. GoK officials usually do not
deny it, but rather claim it is necessary since several
Muslim-majority ethnic groups, such as Somali, Swahili,
Borana and Arab, are transnational with ethnic communities in
Somalia, Tanzania, Ethiopia and the Middle East. However,
Christian-majority ethnic groups that are also transnational,
such as the Luo, Maasai, Luhya or Taita, do not experience
nearly as much difficulty obtaining official documents. End
Comment.)

-- The Muslim community is prepared to work with the USG and
the GoK to find and arrest terrorist suspects if the USG and
GoK would provide them with credible evidence. The GoK's
Anti-Terrorist Police Unit (ATPU), with whom the USG works,
arbitrarily arrests innocent Muslims. These police are not
from the coast. They do not know us and we do not know them.
They make ignorant mistakes or act out of simple malice
toward the Muslim community. (Comment: Arbitrary arrests of
Muslim men is a very common complaint of coastal Muslims in
general, not just the clerical leaders. Dor is correct that
there are few Coast province natives among the police and
even fewer coast Muslims. End Comment.)

-- The GoK detained 37 Muslim Kenyans they claimed had
supported the Islamic Courts in Somalia and then sent them to
Somalia and Ethiopia to be interrogated and imprisoned,
ignoring orders from Kenyan courts for them to be released or
charged. If they broke Kenyan law, then let them be tried
here. Other foreigners linked to the Somali Islamic courts
were deported to their home countries. Only Kenyans were
treated in this way. It is further proof that the GoK does
not consider Muslims full citizens worthy of protection. "I
ask that the U.S. Embassy help to get our people back."
(Comment: The number of transferees is 17 at most, and it is
not sure that all these are truly Kenyan citizens. The GoK
has now agreed to request the Somali authorities to return
any transferees who can prove Kenyan citizenship. Dor sits
on the GoK-appointed committee to resolve this issue. End
Comment.)

-- Once arrested, our men are interrogated by the FBI and
CIA. What business do they have interrogating Kenyan
citizens? Is this America? We may be Muslim, but we still
have our rights as Kenyan citizens living in Kenya.
(Comment: It is widely believed in Mombasa that all arrests
of Muslim men, even if seemingly for criminal offenses not
related to terrorism, is at the specific instruction of "the
FBI and the CIA," who then participate in the interrogations.

NAIROBI 00001150 002.5 OF 004


This myth is very difficult to dispel. It is based on the
fact that FBI agents did indeed provide extensive
investigatory assistance to the Kenyan Police in the
aftermath of the 1998 Embassy Nairobi bombing and the 2002
tourist hotel bombing outside Mombasa. That limited period
of intense cooperation has been mythologized into a tale of
continuing direct supervision by USG agents of Kenya's
anti-terrorist police on the coast. Diplomatic Security's
Anti-Terrorist Assistance program provides some training to
ATPU. End Comment.)

-- We know that the ATPU is no more answerable to Police
Commissioner Ali than was the special squad used to raid the
Standard newspaper. The GoK has put the ATPU under the
control of the U.S. embassy. (Note: In March 2006 masked
Kenyan police raided the Standard media house. This action
was taken without the approval of Police Commissioner Hussein
Ali. In the aftermath of the public outcry against this
police action, Ali fired his deputy who had organized the
raid. End Note.)

-- Dor made all the usual points from an anti-American Muslim
perspective opposing USG policy in Israel, Afghanistan and
Iraq. He said that "after 9/11 we were all very sympathetic
toward America, but of course later we learned the whole
truth of 9/11 as your own people have revealed." Dor then
recited delusional conspiracy theories about 9/11 developed
on various web sites. He went on, "at first we believed that
you were fighting back against terrorists, but then we came
to realize you were making war against Islam because only the
Muslims can prevent America from achieving worldwide
domination." (Comment: Dor emphasized the American origin
of his 9/11 conspiracy theories. The "9/11 Truth Movement"
has made an enthusiastic convert on the Kenyan coast. The
U.S. mission will seek to correct the perception of this
issue among audiences reached by Dor and others using
materials developed by the Department's International
Information Programs. End Comment.)

A Need for Increased Dialog
---------------------------

4. (SBU) PolCouns stressed to Dor that there is a need for
regularizing and intensifying dialog between the U.S. Embassy
and Mombasa's Muslim leadership. This in fact is among the
main reasons the USG plan to re-open a consulate in Mombasa.
The purpose of the dialog is to clear up mutual
misunderstandings and incorrect information and perceptions
as well as to frankly discuss real points of disagreement
about U.S. foreign policy. Successful dialog would identify
points of agreement and potential cooperation. Dor said that
he knew of the USG's intention to re-open its consulate in
Mombasa. He welcomed that development as a means of
furthering dialog, "along as the consulate is not staffed by
the FBI and CIA and is not used as a base to harass and
oppress us."

5. (SBU) PolCouns challenged Dor to express what his
organization supports, as his statements in the press only
list what CIPK is against. He took the point, but said that
the press often mischaracterizes his views. PolCouns
rejected Dor claims that USG policy is anti-Muslim, pointing
out actions on behalf of persecuted Muslims in Bosnia and
Kosovo and on behalf of Tsunami victims in Muslim Indonesia.
PolCouns also pointed out that whatever the present day
difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan, the prior regimes in
those two states had murdered a great number of Muslims and
had misruled and oppressed their people. PolCouns asked Dor
if CIPK had ever denounced Sudanese policy in Darfur as it
had USG policy in Iraq. Dor claimed that in fact he had
publicly challenged Sudanese representatives at
"international fora" he had attended to justify their Darfur
actions. "But in Kenya, I focus on the domestic issue of
police abuse of our people." (Comment: Dor's domestic focus
does not prevent him from regularly castigating the U.S. for
its policies in the Middle East. End Comment.)

Threatened Disruption of World Cross Country Championship
--------------------------------------------- ------------

6. (SBU) PolCouns asked Dor about statements that the Muslim
leadership in Mombasa will seek to disrupt the International
Cross Country Championships scheduled to take place on 24
March unless the GoK releases Muslim detainees in Kenya,
Somalia and Ethiopia. Dor said "I was among those who
lobbied internationally to get the championship in Mombasa.
We know this event can bring needed resources to our

NAIROBI 00001150 003.5 OF 004


neglected community. But how can we allow it to go on now
that our brothers have been deported and exiled to Somalia
and Ethiopia? We can not sit still as this injustice
continues, just as you do not sit still when your people are
abused." Asked about the nature of the "disruption," Dor
replied cagily that it will include demonstrations and other
protest actions to ensure that the GoK "does not ignore us."
Dor declined to be more specific than that. PolCouns
reminded Dor that he had earlier denounced the U.S. Embassy
travel warning as an "unfriendly act against Kenya," pointing
out that the press statements about his organization's intent
to disrupt the games was potentially very damaging to
Mombasa's tourism industry. Dor reacted angrily, stating
that "unlike you, honor and respect is more important to us
than money." (Comment: Earlier that day, Mombasa Muslim
business leaders had expressed to PolCouns their frustration
with their community's clerical leadership. They regretted
that the clerics "are responsive to their friends and
financial backers in the Middle East, not to us." End
Comment.)

7. (SBU) Dor emphasized numerous times that he has respect
and affection for the American people, but detests American
foreign policy. He recounted his wife's recent trip to the
U.S. to visit her American resident sister and the glowing
reports she gave of the thriving American Muslim community
she encountered there. At the same time, he reached for
every rhetorical stick with which to beat the USG. At one
moment he asked what right the USG had to appoint itself as
the world's policeman, while at the next moment he complained
that the USG had not intervened in Rwanda during the
genocide. His manner was intense, nervous and a bit
irrational, while also at times kindly and avuncular.

Provincial Police Officer Kingori: The Games will Go On
--------------------------------------------- ----------

8. (SBU) Provincial Police Officer Kingori told PolCouns that
the Muslim community threats concerning the cross country
championship were all bluster and posturing. He summed up
their stance as "violent words, but peaceful actions." He
expressed frustration with the Muslim leadership demands.
"How can I stop doing things I am not doing? How can I
release detainees who do not exist? Most of their complaints
are imaginary!" Kingori, a Christian from central Kenya,
arrived in Mombasa in late 2006 from his previous posting in
Nairobi. He acknowledged that he was still learning the ways
of the coast. His take on the Muslim leadership was
derisive. "You know these Swahilis and Arabs only marry
their cousins in order to keep wealth and land within the
family. You can see the effects of in-breeding in their
erratic and irrational behavior." Kingori then laid out his
security plans for the cross country games and expressed the
strong conviction that his force can maintain security for
the event.

A Note on the Coastal Muslim Community
--------------------------------------

9. (U) Coastal Muslims make up approximately 60 percent of
Kenya's Muslim population and 6 percent of Kenya's overall
population. They account for approximately 50 percent of the
population of Coast province. This community is ethnically
mixed and divided amongst competing sects and moderate to
radical tendencies. These various ethnicities, sects and
tendencies often unite when they feel their community's
interests are directly threatened, although they contend
against one another for leadership positions in mosques and
Muslim associations. Coastal Muslims dominate leadership
positions in Kenya's two main Muslim associations, SUPKEM and
CIPK.

10. (SBU) Muslim religious leaders on the coast, especially
at senior levels, are largely drawn from the Arab and Swahili
communities, who together make up about 60 percent of coastal
Muslims. The remaining 40 percent are Muslims from
Christian-majority Bantu ethnic groups, mostly Mijikenda and
Pokomo. There is a pronounced division within the coastal
Muslim community between the Arab/Swahili camp on one hand,
with its middle east connections and preoccupations, and its
clerical leadership's strident, grievance obsessed public
posture, and the rest of the community who tend to be much
more moderate in their rhetoric and are much more concerned
about domestic issues than they are about American foreign
policy.

Comment: Some Legitimate Grievances Amidst All the Angst

NAIROBI 00001150 004.6 OF 004


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

11. (SBU) Kenyan society and officialdom, for the most part,
clearly perceive Kenyan Muslims as second class citizens or
not as true citizens at all, and treat them as such.
Complaints that Kenyan Muslims experience much greater
difficulty in obtaining official documents than do their
Christian fellow citizens are widespread and credible.
Relations with the coastal Muslim community could be improved
by public advocacy of the principle of equal treatment for
all citizens under the law. We will include this theme in
our public statements.

12. (SBU) Policing on the coast would be more effective if
more members of the force were native to the region. We have
raised this issue with senior police officials in the past,
however, current GoK policy is not to assign police to their
home districts so as to avoid conflict of interest and to
discourage corruption.

13. (SBU) Additionally, the Kenya National Commission on
Human Rights (KNCHR), a government watchdog organization, is
charged with investigating complaints of human rights abuses.
Greater cooperation and transparency between provincial
police and the KNCHR could help to mitigate coastal Muslim,s
concerns about abuse of police power perpetrated against
their community. We will follow up with KNCHR leadership on
this point.

RANNEBERGER

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