Cablegate: Ambassador Hosts Egyptian Religious Intellectuals

DE RUEHEG #1767 2561352
R 131352Z SEP 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: On August 12, the Ambassador hosted a lunch
for intellectual leaders from Egypt,s Muslim community, as
follow-up to President Obama,s June 2009 Cairo speech.
Spirited discussion took place on how to facilitate continued
dialogue. Guests stressed the need to engage the American
public with information about moderate Islam and the
importance of a comprehensive solution to the
Israel/Palestine conflict. Participants appeared uniformly
pleased to have the opportunity to discuss ways to improve
understanding between Americans and the Egyptian and
worldwide Muslim communities.

2. (U)Participants included:
- Dr. Mohamed Al Shahat Al Gindy, Secretary General,
Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs;
- Dr. Tayseeir Mandoor, Director, Department of
Psychology, Al Azhar University; School of Medicine and
member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs;
- Dr. Amna Nosseir professor of Islamic Jurisprudence at
Al Azhar University and member of the Supreme Council for
Islamic Affairs;
- Sheik Ibrahim Reda, imam of Cairo,s Al Haqeen Mosque
and host of Islamic affairs segment of television program
&Good Morning Egypt;8
- Dr. Suad Saleh, professor of comparative jurisprudence
at Al Azhar University;
- Dr. Ali Al Samman, member of the Supreme Council for
Islamic Affairs;
- Sheik Ahmed Turki, imam at Al Nour Mosque, Cairo.
- Dr. Fawzey Al Zifzaf, member of Al Azhar,s Islamic
Research Council;
- Ambassador Nermin Wafiq, Deputy Assistant Minister for
Cultural and Religious Affairs;
- Dr. Fawzey Al Zifzaf, member of Al Azhar,s Islamic
Research Council;
- Dr. Ahmed Kamal Aboul Magd, Vice-president of the
National Council for Human Rights and a member of the Islamic
Research Council;
- Dr. Fadel Soliman, Director of the Bridges Foundation;
- Nesreen Gom,aa, author.

4. (U) On August 12, following up on President Obama,s
Cairo speech, the Ambassador hosted a lunch with key Egyptian
religious leaders. Guests remarked that President Obama
does not depict Islam as a problem. Several noted President
Obama,s readiness to highlight the positive contribution of
individuals from the Islamic world. Guests remarked on the
change of tone towards the Islamic community. The majority
of guests cited this change in tone as the most important
outcome of President Obama,s speech.

5. (U) Participants suggested a number of ideas to promote
dialogue between the US and the worldwide Muslim community.
Some suggestions were very local in nature and could be
implemented immediately, such as expanding the "English for
Imams" program (managed by Embassy Cairo). Guests also
expressed interest in expanded student exchange programs.
Others ideas were more complex, such as the request to
address a perceived bias against Islam in U.S. schools.

6. (U) The most strident discussion surrounded the
worldwide Muslim community,s desire for a solution to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Several guests spoke
passionately about the need for the U.S. to commit to
effectively addressing the conflict. The perceived need for
"justice" for the Palestinian people was presented as an
essential condition for both regional stability and
restoration of America's standing in the eyes of the
worldwide Muslim community. Several suggested that
meaningful engagement will be difficult absent a
comprehensive Middle East peace.

© Scoop Media

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