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Cablegate: Malian Muslims Peacefully Protest Against Dutch

VZCZCXRO7111
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHBP #0346 1000702
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 090702Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAMAKO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8982
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BAMAKO 000346

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PROP KISL ML
SUBJECT: MALIAN MUSLIMS PEACEFULLY PROTEST AGAINST DUTCH
FILM

1.(U) On April 5 in Bamako an estimated 1,500 Malian Muslims
staged a peaceful protest against the release of the film
Fitna by the right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders. The
march was authorized by the Malian government and organized
by Mohamed Kimbiri, a well-known conservative Imam. "The
entire Muslim community of Mali," said Kimbiri before the
crowd, "actively condemns such irresponsible and provocative
behavior that tarnishes the dignity of Muslims around the
world."

2.(SBU) While politically active, Kimbiri is avowedly
non-violent and open to other points of view. He is one of
the Malian Muslim community's principal organizers and
usually able to turn out several hundred protestors. A
number of veiled women who participated in the April 5
protest appeared ill-informed as to the purpose of the march
and asked a Malian member of the Embassy staff who was
observing the procession to explain what the demonstration
was about. Kimbiri has traveled to the U.S. as the recipient
of an International Visitor's grant, and while up front in
his criticism of U.S. policy toward the Middle East, remains
favorably disposed toward the U.S. As he has done in the
past, Kimbiri called the Embassy prior to the march to inform
the Embassy of his intent to organize a peaceful protest.
Wahhabis constitute a sizable minority of Malian Muslims. As
with other forms of Islam in Mali, however, Wahhabism is not
as exclusionary in Mali as it is in other countries.
MCCULLEY

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