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Cablegate: Embassy Iftaar Series Generates Substantial Goodwill During

VZCZCXRO6906
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #1001 2760912
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020912Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4595
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHLMC/MCC WASHDC
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0726

UNCLAS NIAMEY 001001

DEPT FOR AF/W DENNISON, AF/RSA HARPOLE, AF/PDPA LISENBY,
ECA/PE/V/R/A MOYES AND BUTLER, AND ECA/P/A MKIRSCH

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SCUL PGOV PHUM SOCI KCOR KPAO KISL NG
SUBJECT: Embassy Iftaar Series Generates Substantial Goodwill During
Ramadan

1. As part of post's Islamic outreach initiatives, Embassy Niamey
sponsored a series of Iftaar dinners during the Muslim holy month of
Ramadan. Four separate Iftaars were hosted by the Ambassador, the
Charge d'Affaires, the PAO and the Public Affairs Section (PAS).

2. On September 10, Ambassador Allen sponsored an Iftaar dinner at
her residence, which also functioned to introduce the newly arrived
DCM, Management Officer, and Economic/Consular Officer to the
community. Guests included high-level mission contacts in
government, international organizations, civil society, and members
of the diplomatic corps.

3. On September 17, PAS Niamey offered a presentation on "The
Rights of Women in Islam" with presenter Haoua Maikodomi, President
of local religious educational organization Association Tarbbiyat,
and alumna of the International Visitors program "U.S. Political
Process for Emerging Muslim Leaders" (January 7 - 25, 2008). The
event was held at the American Cultural Center and was followed by
an Iftaar dinner. Attendance was high, with over seventy
participants, including GON representatives, religious leaders,
women's rights and civil society organizations, and journalists from
major television, radio, and print media. Mdm. Maikodomi's
presentation was well received, and sparked lively debate during the
question and answer period, particularly on issues regarding gender
equality, domestic abuse, and inheritance rights. Mdm. Maikodomi
also spoke positively of her experiences in the U.S. on the IV
program and attested to the freedom and respect afforded to
practitioners of Islam in the United States. The event garnered
coverage by four television stations and resulted in articles in
several local newspapers.

4. On September 19, Charge Whitaker hosted an Iftaar at the CMR for
50 attendees, including representatives of a broad spectrum of civil
society representatives from associations ranging in interest from
anti-trafficking in persons to anti-child labor to human rights.
Others included GON officials, members of religious organizations,
and international organization representatives. Charge Whitaker
spoke on the spirit of Ramadan, noting both the exterior and
interior aspects of fasting and sacrifice, as well as pointing out
the growing significance of Islam in the United States, where
freedom of religious practice is prized.

5. On September 24, the PAO closed out the mission's Ramadan
programming by hosting an Iftaar at his residence. This event was
geared toward PAS' most important working level contacts, and
included representatives of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the
OIC-sponsored Islamic University at Say, the National University,
local Islamic associations, educational institutions, civil society
NGOs, and major media owners, executives, and directors.
Participation neared 100% of those invited, and several attendees
pointedly expressed their admiration and appreciation for PAS'
efforts to acknowledge their local religious traditions.

WHITAKER

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