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Cablegate: Reports That Britain Is Importing Pakistani Imams

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLO #1160 1151358
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 241358Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8366
INFO RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 0805
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC

Thursday, 24 April 2008, 13:58
C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 001160
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
EO 12958 DECL: 04/24/2018
TAGS PREL, PGOV, PTER, KISL, PK, UK
SUBJECT: REPORTS THAT BRITAIN IS IMPORTING PAKISTANI IMAMS
ARE EXAGGERATED
REF: 07 LONDON 4471
Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Maura Connelly for reasons 1.4 (b,d)

1. (C) Summary. The British press has reported that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced that Britain would launch a
SIPDIS new initiative to bring “moderate Pakistani Imams” to preach in Britain. Poloff spoke April 24 with the Head of the Home Office’s Prevent Unit Paul Morrison who said the initiative had been miscast and exaggerated in the press. End Summary.

2. (C) Morrison said the Home Secretary had been in discussions with Pakistani officials during her April 13-14 visit to Pakistan about what could be done to diminish the terror threat in the UK. One idea which had been floated was for Pakistani religious authorities to visit the UK as part of HMG’s ongoing program to bring visiting religious scholars to the UK to promote moderate interpretations of Islam (in the Foreign Office-led speaking tour program known as “the Radical Middle Way.”) Morrison said the concept had been discussed in principle but that no firm commitments had been made and no individuals had been identified. In any case, if Pakistani Imams were to come to the UK, “it would only be to visit,” said Morrison.

3. (C) Morrison further clarified that it was not HMG’s policy to import foreign Imams. “To the contrary,” said Morrison, HMG hopes to foster local Imams “rooted in the community.” To this end, HMG has supported Muslim communities’ own efforts to form an association (the Mosques and Imams Advisory Body aka MINAB -- see reftel) which would lead in the development and self-regulation of Mosques in the United Kingdom. Morrison added that the Home Office looks to the Muslim communities to lead on that effort as “it is not the government’s role to dictate to people how to practice their faith.”

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