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Cablegate: Riot in Shabwa After Qur'an Desecrated by French

VZCZCXYZ0129
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHYN #0446 0851221
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261221Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY SANAA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6597
INFO RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0177

UNCLAS SANAA 000446

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL YM
SUBJECT: RIOT IN SHABWA AFTER QUR'AN DESECRATED BY FRENCH
LNG EMPLOYEE

1. (U) On the afternoon of March 25, a French Total employee
of The Yemen Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant in Balhaf in
the Shabwa governorate reportedly desecrated a Qur'an during
an argument with a Yemeni employee regarding contracts. The
Frenchman allegedly tore out pages of the Qur'an, threw it
down to the floor, and according to some accounts, stepped on
it. The French Ambassador confirmed to Charge, and Yemen LNG
stated in a press release, that a French employee had enraged
a local, but did not elaborate on the origin of the clash.

2. (U) A riot resulted that eventually spread to a crowd of
400. At least four Yemenis and the French employee were
injured, a helicopter and automobiles were set ablaze, and a
gas export terminal under construction was damaged. Yemeni
security forces from Ataq eventually put down the riot.
According to American citizens on the ground, the situation
was calm as of 2100 local time, and remained calm today,
March 26. The seven American citizens in Balhaf were not
harmed and are in contact with the Embassy's American Citizen
Services officer.

3. (U) NOTE: The Yemen LNG project is a joint venture between
Total and the Yemeni Government. Total, which employs a
number of foreigners, provides most of the management staff,
while Yemenis comprise the remainder of the project's
personnel. END NOTE
KHOURY

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