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Cablegate: Kabul University Requests Exchange with Al-Azhar

VZCZCXRO5853
RR RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #2998 2711238
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281238Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 0296
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1711
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KABUL 002998

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OEXC PGOV EAID PREL SCUL AF
SUBJECT: KABUL UNIVERSITY REQUESTS EXCHANGE WITH AL-AZHAR
UNIVERSITY

1. (U) This cable includes an action request, para 5.

2. (SBU) The chancellor of Kabul University and the dean of
the University's Shari'a Faculty both made clear their desire
to revive and intensify relations with Egyptian universities,
particularly Al-Azhar, during separate meetings with the
Deputy Ambassador on September 17. Chancellor Hamidullah
Amin requested assistance in promoting an exchange between
Kabul University and Al-Azhar University, in which students
from Afghanistan would study in Egypt, and professors from
Al-Azhar would teach at Kabul University. He emphasized his
University's preference that students be sent specifically to
Egypt, and not to Saudi Arabia or Iran.

3. (U) Approximately forty professors in the Shari'a
Faculty, including Professor Din Mohammad Gran, dean of the
faculty, expressed their overwhelming support for an exchange
program between Al-Azhar and Kabul Universities. Many
boasted of their own studies in Egypt, as they spoke, often
in Egyptian Arabic, on the application of Shari'a law in
Afghanistan. They drew numerous comparisons between the
implementation of Shari'a and civil law in Egypt and
Afghanistan.

4. (U) We currently have programs in USAID, PAS, and INL
that could extend support for an expanded relationship
between Al-Azhar and Kabul universities. A strong judicial
system with well-educated judges and lawyers is key to
creating a peaceful Afghanistan. Enabling more Afghan
university students to study with Al-Azhar scholars,
preferably in Kabul for greater impact, will help strengthen
the foundation upon which the Afghan legal system stands.

5. (SBU) Action: We request Embassy Cairo to sound out the
president of Al-Azhar University on further cooperation with
Kabul University. If Azhar scholars are willing to teach at
Kabul University's Sharia Faculty, we may be able to support
such faculty exchanges in substantial but appropriately
discreet ways. (Note that such an exchange would be entirely
distinct from other Egyptian-Afghan programs at the secondary
level, which were discussed during SRAP Holbrooke's visit to
Cairo in July.) We gather that, if the president or other
academic leaders of Al-Azhar should wish to see for
themselves security and other conditions at Kabul University
before making any commitments, Kabul University Chancellor
Hamidullah Amin would be nd an invitation to
visit his attractive and lively campus.


EIKENBERRY

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