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Cablegate: Ramadan 2005 Public Diplomacy Strategy

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

211505Z Sep 05



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Ramadan 2005 Public Diplomacy Strategy


1. Summary: Ramadan presents an opportunity to promote
mutual understanding, support democratic dialogue and
demonstrate respect for religious traditions in Bahrain. It
is also an opportunity to show a side of America that
listens and has a voice of its own in matters of faith.
Programs will include the Ambassador's nightly visit to
Ramadan majlises (social salons), a traditional Iftaar
dinner with local contacts, a speaker program featuring an
American Imam, a women's event at the DCMs, and a food-drive
for charity. End Summary.

2. The key to Embassy Manama's 2005 Ramadan Strategy is
outreach. We are seeking to engage a broad range of
contacts and reach deep into Bahraini society, particularly
among youth and women. Participating in traditional
cultural events such as the majlis, the Iftaar and women's
Ghabqa shows sincerity in our respect for Islam, and
establishes a setting where dialogue can take place. It
shows our desire to build closer relations with our Bahraini
friends and colleagues, including reaching beyond elites.
Our visiting U.S. speaker, Imam Yahya Hendi of Georgetown
University, will reflect Islam's role in American
contemporary culture and religion, and lay the groundwork
for further engagement and exchanges involving religious
leaders in Bahrain. The CLO food drive shows American
generosity in the context of the zakat, or charity, that is
one of the five pillars of Islam. The Ramadan strategy
directly supports mission program goals of increasing mutual
understanding through outreach to foreign audiences.

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Ambassador and Embassy to visit Ramadan Majlises
--------------------------------------------- ------

3. The Ambassador will lead a team of Embassy officers on a
nightly round of visits to Ramadan majlises hosted by
prominent Bahrainis. On average, they will visit five to
six majlises per evening for the first three weeks of
Ramadan. These majlises provide a unique opportunity for
the Ambassador and Embassy staff to have hundreds of
encounters with Bahrainis, from the senior most level to
average citizens, during a month of great religious
significance for Muslims. While the visits are social, they
offer an opportunity - in addition to showing respect for
Ramadan - to engage with a wide range of Bahrainis on
domestic and international concerns, including democratic
reform, civil society, and Iraq.

Muslim American Speaker Program

4. In mid-October, post will host U.S. speaker Imam Yahya
Hendi, of Georgetown University. His program includes
participation in a majlis at the Grand Mosque in downtown
Manama, meeting with key religious figures, a public lecture
to youth leaders, and giving the convocation at an Iftaar
dinner held at the Ambassador's residence. The Iftaar will
include a diverse audience of religious, cultural,
political, and civil society leaders. The Bahraini Ministry
of Islamic Affairs is helping design a program for Imam
Hendi and getting him center-stage in local Ramadan
activities. We are planning for major press coverage.
Note: This initial program lays the foundation and creates
linkages for a special IV program post will request for FY
2006 in septel (Ref A).

Women's "Ghabqa"

5. DCM will host a traditional Ramadani late meal for women,
with audience from Bahraini civil society, human rights,
ministries, royal family, and embassy community. This event
will show our continuing support for the empowerment of
women in Bahraini civil society. Women journalists and
opinion-leaders will also be invited.


6. In respect for Islam's special emphasis on zakat, or
charity, during Ramadan, Manama CLO will spearhead a food
drive, and will accept food and cash donations for the


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