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Cablegate: National Muslim Group Spokesman Welcomes German Government's

VZCZCXRO2104
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHDF #0031 2901546
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171546Z OCT 07
FM AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0095
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEHDF/AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF 0109

UNCLAS DUSSELDORF 000031

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KISL GM
SUBJECT: NATIONAL MUSLIM GROUP SPOKESMAN WELCOMES GERMAN GOVERNMENT'S
POST RAMADAN DINNER


Sensitive but Unclassified -- Not for Internet Distribution

1. (U) In an October 16 conversation with Duesseldorf Pol/Econ
Officer, Bekir Alboga, the new spokesperson for the Muslim
Coordination Council (KRM) commented positively on a dinner he
attended in Berlin the day before hosted by Federal Interior
Minister Schaeuble, to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
Representatives from all four umbrella organizations (DITIB,
ZMD, VIKZ and Islamrat) were present, as well as select other
Muslim leaders. Chancellor Merkel was a surprise guest who,
according to Alboga, was very inquisitive and engaged. To our
knowledge, news of this event has not appeared in the German
media.

2. (SBU) Alboga was elated and touched by the gesture and
remarked that this was the first time that the German government
has held a Ramadan-related event at such a high level. He
noted, however, that "the German government has not been as fast
as the US Embassy" in engaging Muslims around Ramadan. Or, as
another national Muslim leader said, "so far it has been
unimaginable for us to be received at President Koehler's
official residence in Berlin, as American Muslims have been at
the White House -- for the last seven years!" Alboga added that
Koehler congratulated Muslims on Ramadan privately, via letter,
this year but not officially, as for example via a press
release. He expressed satisfaction at this step, but would have
liked to see the German government celebrate Ramadan more
publicly.

3. (U) Briefly outlining his strategic plan for the next six
months he will be spokesman (the position rotates between the
four KRM constituent groups), Alboga said his main objective is
to create KRM-like structures at the state level throughout
Germany in order to fulfill the organizational prerequisites to
offer Islamic religious instruction in public schools (modeled
after Christian religious instruction). In this connection,
Alboga commented on the fact that in the state of North
Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) the Alevites (a liberal Muslim group)
already have this possibility, saying, "if the Alleviates have
this right, it's high time we (i.e. the Muslim groups organized
in the KRM) have it too."

Comment
-----------

4. (SBU) Alboga's observations were the latest we have heard
from senior Muslims in NRW who have commented favorably,
privately and publicly, on the USG approach to hosting Iftars --
at the White House, by Embassies, and by Consulates like ours.
While the NRW government has begun to host these events (doing
so for the second consecutive year in September), a number of
contacts have noted the comparative lack of engagement around
Ramadan at the Federal level. We have no indication that the
example set by Mission Germany directly influenced Interior
Minister Schaeuble to host this dinner, but the implicit
comparison with the USG appears to be widely understood in
Muslim communities in Germany and reflects favorably on Mission
activities. This may presage greater German engagement in
Ramadan 2008. End Comment.

5. (U) This message was coordinated with Embassy Berlin.

BOYSE

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