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Cablegate: Limited Koran Desecration Protests in Sanaa

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

181005Z May 05



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. SANAA 1305

B. SANAA 1301

1. Summary: The recent Newsweek piece alleging desecration
of a Koran in Guantanamo Bay sparked small protests among
students at Sanaa's universities. The non-violent protests
were contained by police and were not covered by the local
press. Despite strong opposition to many U.S. policies, most
young people in Sanaa are more concerned at this time with
the quality of education than any other issue. End summary.

2. An eyewitness reported small demonstrations at the New
Sanaa University of about 100-150 students. Many were
holding placards exclaiming "Don't disgrace the Holy Koran"
and other slogans, which students also chanted over a
loudspeaker. The demonstrations remained peaceful, and were
contained by police. There were simultaneous demonstrations
at the Old Sanaa University, which were smaller in scope and
heavily controlled by a riot squad checking the IDs of each
student entering the campus. The eyewitness said there were
no gatherings in Liberation Square, a common meeting place
for political dissent.

3. Econoff met May 15 with approximately fifty students at
the National Institute for Administration, located on a
separate campus from the Sanaa universities. The students at
this university were unaware of any demonstrations related to
the alleged Koran desecration, and believed that the protests
were in response to an ongoing faculty strike at the
universities. The students had stayed up studying for their
exams, they said, only to find out they were cancelled,
prompting the protests. No one in the group said they were
planning to demonstrate and did not know anyone who would,
despite universal outrage at the alleged events in Guantanamo

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4. Comment. Yemenis remain largely unaware of anti-U.S.
demonstrations at Sanaa's universities, despite the fact that
some small protests did take place. This can be attributed
to the lack of coverage in the Yemeni press, which focused
mostly on international developments (ref A). Barring future
revelations, it is unlikely that protests in Yemen will
continue. Despite strong emotional opposition to U.S. policy
in Guantanamo Bay and strong religious tendencies among
students, most young people are more concerned with their
education and other immediate concerns. End comment.

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