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Cablegate: Mouride Islamic Leaders Preach Nonviolence and Good

VZCZCXRO5081
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHGI RUEHJS RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHMA
RUEHPA RUEHPW RUEHROV
DE RUEHDK #1352/01 1761433
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251433Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8645
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DAKAR 001352

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/W, AF/RSA, DRL/IRF AND INR/AA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KISL PTER ECON SG
SUBJECT: MOURIDE ISLAMIC LEADERS PREACH NONVIOLENCE AND GOOD
RELATIONS WITH THE U.S.

REF: A. DAKAR 1266

B. 06 DAKAR 2940 AND PREVIOUS

SUMMARY
-------
1. (SBU) Having recently visited Senegal's largest religious order,
the Tidjanes (Ref A), on June 15 Ambassador Jacobs traveled to the
holy city of Touba, to call on the Khalif of the Mouride
brotherhood. The Mourides are the richest and most influential Sufi
brotherhood in Senegal. The Khalif expressed his appreciation for
the bilateral cooperation between Senegal and the U.S. and asked
that Mourides in America be protected. The Ambassador donated books
to an education institute, toured the library of Touba, and visited
the impressive headquarters of Hizbut Tarquiyyah. Mouride
authorities expressed their commitment to disseminating the
nonviolent Islamic philosophy that has governed their relationship
with the world since the founding of the movement over one hundred
years ago. END SUMMARY.

THE KHALIF COMMENDS US DIPLOMACY
--------------------------------
2. (SBU) The 92 year-old Khalif, the venerated and undisputed
leader of the Mouride community, Serigne Saliou Mbacke, the last
surviving son of Mouride founder, Cheikh Amadou Bamba, would not be
easily recognized as (by our estimate) being one of the 50 most
influential religious leaders in the world. He received the
Ambassador dressed in a plain cotton shift while reclining on a
simple day bed and resting against acrylic blankets packed in
plastic covers. His grip was strong, his mind sharp, but his voice
was barely audible and required repetition from his Chief of
Protocol. The Khalif commended U.S. diplomacy and expressed his
gratitude to the Ambassador for the friendship that the U.S. has
with Senegal. He also noted the importance of the Mouride community
in the U.S., both to explain Mouride Islam and for their economic
ties. He expressed his satisfaction about the compassion they enjoy
in America. The Khalif requested that the Ambassador be his envoy
in helping Americans understand and "protect" the Mouride community
in the U.S. The short discussion did not touch on Senegalese
politics, but Mbacke wanted the Ambassador to understand that he
recognizes the sensitive nature of the relationship with the
Government. (NOTE: President Wade is a Mouride, and, as noted in
reftels, has strongly played that card in consolidating his power.
END NOTE.) The Khalif insisted that the Mouride community remains
independent of the Government.

3. (SBU) Departing from the audience, the reality of Mbacke's
influence became apparent as 40 or more followers (the fortunate few
permitted into the residential compound that day) shoved past us to
spend some moments in the Khalif's presence. The Khalif provides
religious and social proclamations for an estimated four million
followers in Senegal, and thousands more in the U.S., Canada, Europe
and the Middle East. He heads a movement that receives millions of
dollars a year in tithes from those followers. His Chief of
Protocol said that Mbacke cannot go to the mosque or participate
directly in the annual Magal pilgrimage in Touba because his
followers would crush each other to be in his presence.

NON VIOLENCE IS A CREDO NOT A STRATEGY
--------------------------------------
4. (SBU) In briefing the Ambassador, the Director of the Library of
Touba, Mr. Amdy Diattara, stressed that the Mourides have a specific
identity, that includes a strong work ethic and a resolve towards
nonviolence: "by faith and not by strategy." He further commented
that they: "reject the use of force" and "have no qualms" in
asserting this view to the Islamic world. Diattara stated that
extremists have perverted the idea of jihad, stating that Islam is
nobody's property: "We Mourides believe in ourselves and generating
our own ideas ... our combat should only be about liberty, dignity,
and educating people. Our spiritual leader did not teach us to
kill, he taught us to have faith within our hearts and be on good
terms with our fellow human beings."

SPREADING THE WORD
------------------
5. (SBU) The visit concluded with a tour of the headquarters of the
Hizbut Tarquiyah Institute, the brotherhood's step into modernity,
with hi-tech equipment and research spaces that promote interface
with international researchers, and a focus on business development
and the inclusion of women. This powerful Mouride association is
also the largest youth movement in the brotherhood. It provides
religious and vocational education to young people, supports women's
economic activity, and manages the complicated logistics of the
Magal that brings an estimated two million people to Touba once a
year. The leader of Hizbut Tarquiyah, Mr. Atou Diagne, is often
asked by the current Khalif to be the interface between the
brotherhood and the Government. As noted in Ref B, Diagne is one of
the Mourides' leading intellectuals outside of the Khalif's
bloodline. He is working to modernize the movement and promote its

DAKAR 00001352 002 OF 002


beliefs to a wider audience.

6. (SBU) Following his 2006 participation in the Department's
International Visitors Program for Young Muslim Leaders, Diagne used
part of the Hizbut's Tarquiyah's estimated USD 2 million annual
budget to bring all the participants from his program to Touba to
further continue their dialog, explain the nonviolent Sufi
philosophy of Mouridism, and to exchange ideas on how to spread
positive messages about Islam. Diagne noted that "Mourides doctrine
is a rehabilitation of Islam in its original form: "Islam is
moderate; those other forms we see today are deviations." The visit
is detailed in Hizbut Tarquiyyah website at http://www.htcom.sn.

7. (SBU) When asked about Mouride participation in the Organization
of Islamic Conference (OIC) Summit planned for Dakar in March 2008,
Atou Diagne was dismissive of the effort, saying that as yet no
invitation had been extended. He added that preparations for the
summit are all about Arab countries financing projects in Senegal,
and not about a true inter-Islamic dialog.

COMMENT
-------
8. (SBU) The visit to Touba confirmed the Mourides' influence in
Senegal and beyond, with both strong ties to tradition via the
Khalif and efforts to have a modern, global reach, via Atou Diagne
and the Hizbut Tarquiyyah Institute. The question is how much
greater impact will the Mouride movement have in the coming years
politically, economically, and religiously? The Mourides' political
influence is probably less than it could be. Despite the followers'
general support of Wade, in large part due to the Khalif's personal
relationship with him, they do not vote as a block, and the Khalif
does not ask them to do so. Even without a united front, the
Mourides are learning that they can have influence via individuals,
whether it's a powerful marabout, such as Bethio Thioune (Ref B), or
an influential government minister, such as Foreign Minister Cheikh
Tidiane Gadio.

9. (SBU) While it is difficult to estimate the amount of direct
donations sent to the Khalif from the faithful, it is clearly in the
tens of millions of dollars per year, and likely much more. Having
almost captured the market in local transportation services, and
remaining strong in agriculture, small-scale commerce, and
construction, the issue is what to do with all the money? Whether
the Mouride leadership and the most successful of its businesspeople
decide to grow into light manufacturing or other sectors, the
purchase of traditional financial instruments, or expand their
investments in international property, as a group, the impact on
Senegal will be profound.

10. (SBU) The most interesting question, however, is whether the
next generation of Mouride leaders and intellectuals will be more
public and aggressive in promoting their moderate, tolerant, and
nonviolent brand of Islam. Atou Diagne and the Hizbut Tarquiyyah
Institute certainly appear ready to go international, and with an
economic base and strong networks in the U.S., Europe, Canada, and
the Middle East, other Mouride leaders and institutions could well
follow suit. END COMMENT.

11. (U) Visit Embassy Dakar's SIPRNET Web site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/af/dakar.

JACOBS

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