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Cablegate: U.S. Outreach to the Muslim World: Farah Pandith Describes

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DE RUEHGB #2484 2571358
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R 141358Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
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STATE FOR NEA/PPD AND NEA/I; INFO IIP/G/NEA

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TAGS: PREL KISL KPAO KCUL IZ
SUBJECT: U.S. OUTREACH TO THE MUSLIM WORLD: FARAH PANDITH DESCRIBES
AMERICAN EFFORTS TO BOLSTER PARTNERSHIPS WITH THE MUSLIM WORLD IN
DVC WITH IRAQI CONTACTS

1. Summary: The Department's Senior Advisor on Muslim Engagement
Farah Pandith conducted a digital video conference with Iraqi media
and cultural contacts to explain her office's role in reaching out
to Muslim communities. This event engaged major media players in
Iraq during Ramadan, allowing for productive discussion about
tolerance and U.S. efforts to partner with Muslim communities. Media
reports on the dialogue were positive, as were the comments which
EMBOFFS picked up from the audience immediately after the event. End
Summary.

2. On September 9, post hosted 20 journalists, students and
academics for a digital video conference (DVC) with Farah Pandith,
Senior Advisor on Muslim Engagement. The program was preceded by an
embassy-sponsored Iftar. Journalists from three of the leading
newspapers in Iraq attended the event. The national "Al-Iraqiya"
satellite station was granted exclusive television coverage of the
event. "Radio Sawa," "Radio Rasheed," and "Radio Iraqi Republic"
attended and reported on the event, as did the director of the
website Neqash and cultural magazine "Masarat."

3. The event elicited news coverage from state-run TV station
al-Iraqiya on September 11. The report began with footage of the
twin towers being attacked and then directly shifted to images of
President Obama and Secretary Clinton in Cairo, people walking in
the streets of America, and inserts of the DVC gathering. The
correspondent then stated: "Eight years have passed since the 9/11
bombings and the image has changed; America has a new face. This is
the message President Obama delivered in his Cairo speech a few
months back. Steps are being taken to expand the dialogue between
Muslim societies and America." "Al-Iraqiya" ended its report by
stating: "This new opening to the Muslim world comes after biased
U.S. policies towards Muslims since September 2001. It means that
the U.S. is serious about changing its image towards Muslims through
open dialogue and cooperation between America and Muslim societies.
The future will truly tell whether this relationship will succeed or
not."

4. Lead evening stories for "Radio Iraqi Republic" and "Radio
Rasheed" highlighted post's endeavors to enhance educational and
scientific relations with Iraq. Radio Sawa's online article stated:
"On the anniversary of September 11, State Department Special
Representative calls for renunciation of violence." The article
repeated Pandith's message that focusing on young people in Muslim
communities is key in preventing violent ideologies.
"Radio Sawa" asked about the possible ending of cultural projects in
the wake of the withdrawal of U.S. troops, and in response, Pandith
explained that "both President Obama and the Under Secretary of
State for Public Diplomacy have talked about the importance of
cultural diplomacy, and of course we continue to do more in this
area."

5. The success of this DVC was manifest in positive media reporting,
and in comments gathered from guests after the event. Many of the
journalists agreed with one comment that this was a "fresh" and
interesting topic, requesting more such exchanges. Many of them said
it was a pleasure and relief to cover an issue which was not
political, security, or violence related.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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