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Cablegate: Mission Morocco Mobilized for Ramadan Outreach

VZCZCXRO6495
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHGI RUEHJS RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHPW RUEHROV
RUEHTRO
DE RUEHRB #0993/01 2891838
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151838Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9236
INFO RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 RABAT 000993

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/MAG, NEA/PD, IIP, ECA, DRL/NESCA AND DRL/IRF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KISL KIRF KPAO OIIP PGOV PREL SCUL MO
SUBJECT: MISSION MOROCCO MOBILIZED FOR RAMADAN OUTREACH
ACTIVITIES

1. (SBU) Summary: American and locally employed staff from
all sections of Embassy Rabat and Consulate General Morocco
mobilized to make the Mission,s Iftars (Ramadan dinners) and
extensive outreach programming during the Islamic holy month
of Ramadan a success. The Embassy and Consulate General
hosted eight Iftars, in an effort to establish new ties in
the Muslim community and strengthen dialogue with previous
contacts, including USG-funded program participants and
international visitor alumni. Events included the Ambassador
and Mrs. Riley,s Iftars for orphan and at-risk youth, as
well as DCM, CG, POL and PAS events engaging political, civil
society, business, religious and youth leaders from around
the country. Participation by renowned Moroccan singers,
television personalities and a former Olympian enhanced the
programming, with some events garnering national print and
broadcast coverage. End summary.

--------------
YOUTH OUTREACH
--------------

2. (SBU) Ambassador and Mrs. Riley organized a week of
Iftars aimed at reaching out to orphaned and at-risk youth in
Rabat and surrounding communities. Volunteers from all
sections of the embassy participated in Iftars at the Temara
Youth Center, Sale Orphanage, Tazi Palace and Akkari
Orphanage. Programs included guest presenters, music and
distribution of U.S. private and government donated clothing
and books. The events, which reached over 450 youths,
highlighted Embassy Rabat,s engagement with the local
community and spirit of volunteerism.

3. (SBU) On September 15, Ambassador and Mrs. Riley hosted
an Iftar at the Temara Youth Center. Approximately 17 youth
attended, as well as a number of the center,s staff,
Governor of Skhirat-Temara Haoudi Abdelhak, and 20 local
officials and parliamentarians. Ambassador and Mrs. Riley
handed out soccer uniforms and clothing donated by American
companies and American candy to the youth center
participants. The Governor also donated soccer uniforms.
Highlights of the night included performances by traditional
Moroccan musicians, dancing, a &beat-boxing8 performance by
one of the center,s youth and a guest appearance by rising
Moroccan star and singer Nabila Maan.

4. (SBU) On September 18, approximately 150 boys and girls
attended an Iftar dinner at Sale Orphanage, hosted by
Ambassador and Mrs. Riley. Arabic and English language books
from PAS, as well as soccer uniforms, were donated to the
orphans.

5. (SBU) The following evening, September 19, Ambassador and
Mrs. Riley hosted an Iftar at the historic Tazi Palace in
Rabat for approximately 150 girls from the Al Mouassat and
Ichraq orphanages. Arabic and English language books from
PAS, as well as soccer uniforms, were donated to the orphans.
Nationally renowned Moroccan television personality and chef
Choumicha - referred to as the &Martha Stewart of Morocco8
- attended the event. Pro-palace French language daily
newspaper Le Matin (circulation: 22,800) and semi-private
Moroccan television station 2M (estimated viewership: 21
million) reported on the event. 2M interviewed Ambassador
Riley, who said that hosting Iftars for orphans has become a
tradition for him and that it was a pleasure to share the
sacred month of Ramadan with the children. This highlighted
American respect for Islam with a large Moroccan audience.

6. (SBU) Rounding out the week, Ambassador and Mrs. Riley
hosted an Iftar for 140 girls at the Akkari orphanage, with
former Moroccan female Olympic runner Nezha Bidouane
participating and encouraging the girls to pursue their
dreams.

7. (SBU) On September 25, DCM Jackson hosted an Iftar
uniting talented Moroccan students, youth leaders and young
professionals )- many of them USG English language and
exchange program alumni -- in a social setting, allowing for
an exchange of ideas and stories related to cross-cultural
exchange. A performance of traditional Andalucian songs by
young Tetouan musicians, including a guest performance by an
American embassy intern, was well received as a display of
respect for Moroccan culture and American-Moroccan
collaboration. Each attendee received the IIP-produced
Ramadan calendar. The up and coming invitees will likely
become Morocco,s future community leaders and academics, and
the opportunity for informal dialogue and expression of
multicultural respect helped promote favorable attitudes
toward the United States, with an anticipated multiplier
effect as the invitees share their experiences with their

RABAT 00000993 002.2 OF 003


communities.

---------------------------
STRENGTHENING RELATIONSHIPS
---------------------------

8. (SBU) On September 22, CG Millard hosted Consulate
General Casablanca,s annual post-Iftar music program. The
guests were leading local politicians and business leaders,
including Minister of Social Affairs Nouzha Skalli, Deputy
Governor of Greater Casablanca Mouad Jamaai, Governor of Ain
Chock Fouzia Amnassar, Head of the U.S.-Morocco Business
Council Abdelmalek Kettani, and the local heads of Price
Waterhouse Coopers and Citibank. The DCM, as well as POL,
ECON, PAS and RAO section heads were present, as were several
U.S. ConGen Casablanca employees. The performers, who
included some of Morocco,s leading musicians, offered up a
variety of local entertainment, including medieval Muslim
chants, Amazigh Berber music, old Moroccan Sephardic tunes
and Andalucian lute music. The musical performers were
enthusiastically received by the spectators, with members of
the audience singing along to some of the most popular tunes.
Exhibitions of contemporary art and calligraphy, contributed
by five local artists, were mounted on the patio to accompany
the Ramadan theme. The event succeeded in furthering the
Mission,s efforts toward promoting U.S.-Moroccan partnership
and enhancing democracy and governance, as well as
strengthening relations with the Casablanca business
community.

9. (SBU) The Political Section in Rabat hosted a September
25 Iftar for female parliamentarians and local politicians.
The event focused on both the development of the Mission,s
political contacts and the Mission Strategic Plan goal of
enhancing democracy and governance. The event reemphasized
the mission,s support for female leaders in Morocco and
complemented cross-sectional U.S. election-related
programming with MEPI and PAS. Several of the invitees
previously participated in a PAS-organized U.S. elections DVC
in September with U.S. political pundits and the majority of
attendees will be taking part in a USG-funded trip to the
United States to observe the November elections and learn
about democracy in the United States. Attendees from PAS,
USAID and a local NGO also contributed to the dialogue.
Participants expressed excitement about their imminent travel
to the United States and voiced overwhelming support for
Obama,s candidacy, reflecting a broader Moroccan trend in
relation to the U.S. elections. They also shared their
anticipation that a greater number of female candidates will
be included on party lists in the 2009 Moroccan municipal
elections.

-----------------------------------
CIVIL SOCIETY AND COMMUNITY LEADERS
-----------------------------------

10. (SBU) On September 25, CG Millard hosted the
consulate,s annual Iftar for leaders of NGOs and civil
society. Aziz Dada, Governor and Minister of the National
Initiative for Human Development (INDH), the lead agency of
the Moroccan government responsible for development,
attended. Among the other guests were members of Rotary
International, NGO representatives and recipients of MEPI and
DoD funds aimed at reaching out to underprivileged children
and democracy education. Participants traveled far and wide
to attend the event, highlighting the scope and reach of the
Consulate General,s contacts. In particular, Najat Anwar,
the president of an organization fighting child sexual
exploitation, flew from Agadir to participate. Many guests
expressed their appreciation for the chance to meet with USG
representatives and to network with their counterparts.

11. (SBU) PAS-Rabat hosted a September 19 Iftar for select
International Visitor Leadership Program alumni and key
Moroccan and American religious leaders. The International
Visitor alumni described their work in Morocco and shared
anecdotes about their respective IVLP programs in the U.S.,
allowing participants to network, learn about each other,s
experience and gain a more in-depth understanding of social,
cultural and religious life in America. Invited IIP speaker,
Imam Yahya Blankinship addressed the group and provided an
educational opportunity for Moroccan guests to learn about
Islam in America. Both Imam Blankinship and the IVLP alumni
emphasized the importance of educational and cultural
exchanges in dispelling negative stereotypes, promoting
cultural understanding and reinforcing shared values and
commonalities. Each attendee received the IIP-produced
Ramadan calendar. The event furthered efforts to maintain
and strengthen relations with former IVLP alumni.

RABAT 00000993 003 OF 003

12. (SBU) Comment: All of the mission,s Ramadan outreach
activities advanced the mission,s public diplomacy strategy
to improve public attitudes toward the U.S. and advance
international understanding, as well as promote democracy and
governance and U.S-Moroccan partnership. In addition, they
provided an opportunity for cultural exchange and networking
between Moroccan youth, community, academic, governmental,
business, media and religious leaders and succeeded in
strengthening key contacts across the various sectors of
Moroccan society. End comment.


*****************************************
Visit Embassy Rabat's Classified Website;
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/rabat
*****************************************

Riley

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