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Cablegate: Leader of Malian Hamalliyya Discusses Aqim

VZCZCXRO9384
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHBP #0288 0791430
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191430Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAMAKO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8911
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

UNCLAS BAMAKO 000288

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KISL SOCI PTER ML
SUBJECT: LEADER OF MALIAN HAMALLIYYA DISCUSSES AQIM

REF: 07 BAMAKO 01170

1.(U) On March 7 Emboffs traveled to Nioro du Sahel, on
Mali's western border with Mauritania, to meet two of Mali's
most important Sufi religious leaders: Amadou Hady Tall, the
Khalif General of Malian Tidjani Muslims; and Mohamed Ould
Cheikhna, the Sherif of Malian Hamallist Muslims. As the
seat of Mali's two main Sufi traditions, the quiet town of
Nioro holds as much, if not more, religious importance for
contemporary Malians than the larger and more celebrated
religious centers of Djenne and Timbuktu (Ref A). While
Djenne and Timbuktu are known for their historical importance
and mud-brick mosques, tens of thousands of Malians make
pilgrimages to Nioro - not Timbuktu or Djenne - each year for
a chance to glimpse the living leaders of Malian Islam.

2.(SBU) Both Tall and Cheikhna have proved to be exceedingly
open to the U.S. Embassy. As the leader of Mali's Hamalliyya
Sufi order, Cheikhna moves through Nioro with an entourage
that consists of his numerous adult children, many devoted
followers and new vehicles sent by adherents throughout the
world. During this visit, he was using a new Land Cruiser
with UAE plates and a new Lincoln sedan with Ohio vanity
plates that read "Sahara C" - possibly short for "Sahara
Cherif".

3.(U) During an hour long meeting with EmbOffs, Cheikhna
noted that while Djenne and Timbuktu offer history and old
buildings, only in Nioro can one speak with the living
leaders of Mali's Islamic traditions. He offered,
unprompted, his views on the recent killing by AQIM of French
tourists in southern Mauritania. As a speaker of Hasaniya (a
language akin to Arabic common in Mauritania and Northern
Mali), Chiekhna is culturally closer to Mauritania than to
Mali. Chiekhna said those guilty of killing the French
tourists were not Muslims and that he was concerned about the
number of individuals encouraging violence in the name of
Islam. These people, said Chiekhna, do not know the Koran
and are not Muslims.

4.(U) Cheikhna's family history adds weight to his opinions
of AQIM and radical Islam. During the 1930s and 40s the
French exiled Cheikhna's father and executed several of his
brothers in the town of Yelimane in western Mali. Cheikhna
said the appeal of the Hamallist Sufi order across Mali
stems, in large part, from his father's peaceful response to
French colonial persecution. Non-violence and respect for
the lives of others is therefore a key tenet of Cheikhna and
his followers' interpretation of Islam.
MCCULLEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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