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Cablegate: First Ever Iftar with Mozambican Islamic

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MAPUTO 001525

SIPDIS
STATE FOR ECA FOR ASSISTANT SECRETARY PATRICIA
HARRISON; AF/PD FOR LKOENGETER; AF/S FOR HTREGER
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OEXC OIIP PINR KISL
SUBJECT: FIRST EVER IFTAR WITH MOZAMBICAN ISLAMIC
LEADERS


1. SUMMARY: Maputo PAS organized an Iftar at the
Ambassador's residence that took place the final
Friday of Ramadan, November 12. Nine prominent local
Muslim leaders, representative of several different
communities of Mozambique's sizeable Muslim minority,
were invited and attended, including clerics,
businessmen and NGO activists. After the Ambassador
spoke, one of the most prominent Muslim clerics in
Mozambique gave unprompted remarks for several minutes
thanking the Ambassador for taking the first steps to
bridge the divide between the local American and
Muslim communities. END SUMMARY.

NINE MUSLIM LEADERS
2. The nine attendees included: Aminuddin Mohammed,
president of the Islamic Congress of Mozambique who
writes a weekly religion column in "Savana", an
influential independent weekly; Cassimo David of the
Mozambican Council of Theologians, a former
International Visitor participant; other business and
NGO representatives from both Mozambique's Asian
Islamic community and native Macua community; and two
key figures in Muslim women's groups. Embassy
representatives met with most of the invitees prior to
the event to put the outreach efforts into context.

EMBASSY ZAKAT DONATIONS
3. On the morning prior to the Iftar, the Embassy
delivered food baskets as a "zakat" offering to ten
poorer mosques located in Maputo and surrounding
areas. The baskets included bulk quantities of staple
foods such as corn meal. Mission personnel visited
the mosques in advance of the delivery to make
contacts and arrange logistics. They followed up with
personal delivery of the baskets, which included a
card to the leader of each mosque.

IIP'S "MUSLIM LIFE" SUCCESS
4. While guests were arriving, PAS played an
abridged and translated version of IIP's "Muslim Life
in America" slideshow. The slides, while not
provoking questions immediately, helped set an upbeat,
respectful tone for the rest of the evening. During
supper, the PAO engaged in a conversation with a high
school teacher of Arabic and the Koran, who had
studied for seven years in Libya. The teacher admitted
to having been uncomfortable with the idea of
attending the Iftar and was defensive about his Libyan
education. He specifically noted his appreciation of
the slideshow, however, and proceeded to ask about
American Muslims.

IMAM SPEAKS, WELCOMES IFTAR GESTURE
5. The Ambassador presented prepared remarks
welcoming the guests; she noted her own previous
experience in predominately Muslim Morocco and
underscored the historical role that Islam has played
in Mozambique. Immediately afterward, Mohammed gave
several minutes of unprompted remarks, thanking the
Ambassador for taking the first steps to bridge the
divide between the local American and Muslim
communities. To be sure, his comments had a modest
political overtone, acknowledging his (and the local
Muslim community's) disagreement with certain aspects
of American foreign policy without going into
specifics. Nevertheless, he reiterated his
receptiveness to the positive message conveyed by the
Iftar.

A MISSION-WIDE EFFORT
6. The Iftar, though coordinated by PAS, resulted
from the combined efforts of the Mission. Personnel
from several sections of the Department of State and
USAID, Mozambican and American alike, gave freely of
their time and experience to make this unprecedented
event work. From day one of planning, the Ambassador
communicated the significance of outreach, a message
reinforced consistently throughout the planning
process. Perhaps the most important element turned out
to be the extraordinary contributions of several
Muslim members of the Mission, whose advice and
judgment proved critical.

7. COMMENT: By any measure the Iftar was a success.
The mere fact that our carefully selected guests
appeared at all at this first-ever Embassy Iftar would
be one measure of success. But more happened: a key
imam's unprompted generous acknowledgment communicated
the respect with which the Muslim community viewed the
Ambassador's gesture, no small feat. In the process,
the Mission made a number of excellent contacts and
generated significant goodwill, helping to reduce
tensions between the communities.
LA LIME

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