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Cablegate: Ninewa: International Visitor Returns From Program

VZCZCXRO1742
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #1706/01 1570745
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 050745Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7679
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 001706

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SCUL PHUM PGOV EAID PREL PINR ECON IZ
SUBJECT: NINEWA: INTERNATIONAL VISITOR RETURNS FROM PROGRAM
READY TO PROMOTE RECONCILIATION

This is a Ninewa Provincial Reconstruction Team message.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. After his recent International Visitor
Leadership program, Younis Faisel Kanjo, a Sunni Kurd member
of the Ninewa Provincial Council, returned to Mosul ready to
push forward a plan for interfaith communication in Iraq. He
reported that he intends to meet with Iraqis to share his
experiences in the United States and work with religious
leaders to promote religious tolerance in Iraq. End summary.

IVLP Changes Attitude About US
------------------------------

2. (SBU) During a debriefing session with PRTOFFS, Provincial
Council member Younis Faisel Kanjo praised the quality of the
IVLP and indicated that his attitude about the United States
changed as a direct result of his program. Prior to
departing for the US, his experience with the United States
was limited to movies, military vehicles, and soldiers. He
acknowledged holding what he termed the "wrong" ideas about
American culture. He stressed that his impression prior to
the program was that the American family unit was
dysfunctional and that the moral code was broken. During his
program he reported that he saw just the opposite at every
stop. He witnessed strong family ties in every state and was
overwhelmed by the generosity and graciousness of his
American hosts. Younis' program took him to Washington, D.C.;
Jackson, Mississippi; Helena and Bozeman, Montana; Chicago,
Illinois; and New York City.

3. (SBU) Younis reported that the goal of his program was to
examine how US religious and ethnic minority groups function
in the context of a democratic society and to explore the
role of faith-based groups. He indicated that he had several
opportunities to speak to Americans in Mississippi and
Montana and continually focused on things that Christians,
Muslims, and Jews have in common. His discussions were
warmly received by audiences in the United States. Based on
his previous experience in Iraq and information gathered
during the program, Younis told PRTOFFS that is proposing a
plan for interfaith communication in Iraq to authorities in
Baghdad.

4. (SBU) Younis said he was surprised at the personal and
religious freedom he saw during his program. At a public
school he found that when a Muslim girl in a burqua refused
to take music class because she said it was against her
religion, the school changed their regulation. As a teacher
of religion, he knows that music and singing are not haram
and was surprised to find that the school was taking her
views into consideration. He reported that she did not need
to take music and could take calligraphy instead. He
indicated that would have never happened in Iraq.

Participant Seeks Way to Inform Iraqis
--------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Prior to the program, Younis ran a series of three
religious reconciliation conferences as part of an initiative
that was funded through the Department's QRF assistance
program. He said his objective is to continue discussing
peaceful coexistence with people in Iraq, but now he also
wants to share his experience from the United States with
Iraqis to correct their impressions about American culture.
He indicated that he would like the opportunity to speak to
Iraqis to tell them what he saw in the United States about
personal freedoms and human rights. He wants to tell people
that the United States is not what they see on TV. Traveling
in the United States, he saw that Americans do not complain

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