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Cablegate: Congen Surabaya Clebrates Ramadan

VZCZCXRO4116
RR RUEHBC RUEHCHI RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHDT RUEHGI RUEHHM RUEHKUK
RUEHLH RUEHPW RUEHROV
DE RUEHJS #0044/01 2750958
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020958Z OCT 07
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0063
INFO RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0056
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0065

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SURABAYA 000044

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS, EAP/PD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPAO ECON ID
SUBJECT: CONGEN SURABAYA CLEBRATES RAMADAN

REF: STATE 112013

SURABAYA 00000044 001.2 OF 002


1. SUMMARY: U.S. Consulate General Surabaya planned and hosted
five separate Iftar activities during the month of September.
Two were hosted by the Consul General at her residence, and
another one was hosted by the CG in Manado, in the province of
North Sulawesi. Another two events involved underprivileged
children in the Surabaya area, including one with children
displaced by the Sidoarjo mudflow. The activities involved all
sections of the Consulate and generated extensive positive media
coverage, including articles in some media with which we
previously had no contact. End Summary.

ADULT IFTARS
-------------

2. The Consul General hosted two Iftars at her residence, one
focusing on Political and Economic contacts, the other on Public
Affairs contacts. CG McClelland offered welcoming remarks in
Indonesian, highlighting the spiritual aspects of the fast and
emphasizing her desire to have the consulate staff integrated
with the local community. After the fast was broken, attendees
prayed in a specially prepared area, led by local Islamic
organization heads. The East Java chairmen of both Nahdhatul
Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah attended the first Iftar.

3. Press coverage of these events included a lengthy article,
with several color pictures, in a Chinese-language Surabaya
daily with which the consulate had previously not had contact.
Based on reactions from members of the Chinese Muslim
Association in attendance, the article noted that the event
demonstrated the respect which Americans have for religious
tolerance. The article also commented that the U.S. Consulate
helped foster unity and understanding among groups of
Indonesians that do not often interact.

4. While visiting the majority Christian province of North
Sulawesi, the CG hosted the local chairman of the North Sulawesi
Ulama Council and the Chairman of North Sulawesi Muhammadiyah
and their families to break their fast.

CHILDREN'S IFTARS
------------------

5. The first of two Iftars with needy children was held at
Alang-Alang, a shelter for Surabaya street children. The CG,
American and Indonesian members of the consulate staff, and
their families were treated to musical performances by the
children. The Consulate staff and some of their children got
quick lessons on how to play the angklung, a traditional
Indonesian percussion instrument made of bamboo, and joined the
other kids for one number. CG McClelland gave short remarks and
then answered questions from the children. At a child's
request, the Americans sang the Star Spangled Banner, and toured
the shelter's facilities. The Consulate donated 15 books to the
library, and then all the children, numbering about 200,
received dinner and gifts of prayer mats and beads.

6. The Alang-Alang event was held in the street in front of the
shelter and many members of the community gathered to watch the
proceedings. Media coverage was extensive, with color pictures
in appearing in all the local major dailies, and highlights from
the event broadcast on local television. The Jakarta Post, the
leading English language daily in Indonesia, also featured the
Surabaya Iftar event with a picture of the CG playing an
angklung with the children.

Victims of the Mud Flow
------------------------

7. The highlight of Consulate Surabaya's Iftar events was a
visit to the Porong Market refugee facility, housing families
left homeless by the Sidoarjo mudflow disaster. Prior to
breaking the fast, CG McClelland and members of the Consulate
staff toured the market area, seeing how rows of windowless
market stalls without doors had been converted into family
residences. After a short video presentation of Muslim Life in
America, the CG delivered Iftar remarks and signaled the
breaking of the fast with dinner and gifts for over 300
elementary school-aged children. There was a real sense of
excitement and anticipation as the kids lined up with previously
distributed tickets to receive their meals and wrapped presents.


8. Everything related to the mudflow generates intense press
interest, and this event was no exception. Television, radio,
and print coverage was extensive, and despite local authorities'
concerns prior to the event about potential negative coverage or
demonstrations, the stories focused on the interaction of
consulate staff and the children at Porong, and were universally

SURABAYA 00000044 002.2 OF 002


positive. Separately, referring to press coverage of the
children's Iftars, Mohammed Nur, a former Governor of East Java
and elder statesmen of East Java politics, praised the
Consulate's efforts to reach out to disadvantaged members of the
community.
MCCLELLAND

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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