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Cablegate: Imams Versus President Wade's Statue

VZCZCXRO0218
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHDK #1527 3521238
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181238Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY DAKAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3509
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS DAKAR 001527

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/W, AF/RSA, DRL AND INR/AA
PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS PINR KDEM SG
SUBJECT: Imams Versus President Wade's Statue

1. (SBU) Summary: A group of 18 Islamic associations in the capital
area directed their imams to denounce President Abdoulaye Wade
during their December 11, 2009 Friday sermons because he had
characterized them as being ignorant in the ways of Islam after they
had accused the President's African Renaissance Monument of being
idolatrous. End Summary.

2. In an usually forceful statement President Wade, who is normally
very wary of taking on any members of the religious establishment
for fear of alienating voters, labeled a group of imams as
theologically ignorant after they remarked that the African
Renaissance Monument's depiction of the human form to include a
partially clothed female was un-Islamic and degenerate. Wade
explained, "In the Koran, it is prohibited to raise a monument and
worship it like a god and ask favors from it. But, if it is just to
admire its beauty and on top of that make money from it, there is
nothing wrong with it."

3. In reply, the imams first stood by their interpretation, saying
that Islam prohibited the raising of such monuments because it
detracts from the worship of God and then they prepared a joint text
that their members would read in their respective mosques on Friday;
which they did. However, the reaction has so far been muted. A
review of the press in the following days failed to turn any major
newspaper reporting the story. According to local Embassy staff who
attended Friday prayers, the subject was barely mentioned by the
imams themselves. One embassy employee reported that his imam
touched on the subject for less than one minute in his 30-minute
sermon, averring that Senegal had many other moral issues to deal
with and then questioned the motives of the imams. In a separate
conversation with a leading Mouride religious figure, Poloff was
told that, as long as the monument was not worshipped, they did not
see a real problem with it.
Comment
-------

4. (SBU) As the imams themselves acknowledged, all of the polemic
surrounding the monument comes far too late in the day as the statue
is finished and almost ready to be dedicated; this may explain the
very low-key reaction of the Senegalese people to the imams'
objections. Additionally, some question the imams' sincerity,
wondering whether or not this is just politics and a ploy to get
President Wade to open his coffers to them. An abstract theological
argument around whether or not the monument is idolatrous resonates
very little as the Senegalese people remain focused on their meager
pocketbooks while the government fragrantly wastes public funds to
build a statue that to many has come to symbolize the worst Wade's
administration has to offer them. End Comment.
Bernicat

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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