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Cablegate: Forward Thinking to Negate "Defamation Of

VZCZCXRO6445
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHKUK RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHRB #1005 3621415
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281415Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0995
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS RABAT 001005

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE FOR DRL, IO AND NEA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KISL KDEM PREL PGOV OPDC MO
SUBJECT: FORWARD THINKING TO NEGATE "DEFAMATION OF
RELIGION" IN THE UN (S/ES: 200922459) - MOROCCO STRATEGY

REF: A. STATE 128320
B. RABAT 0994 (NOTAL)

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Mission Morocco's strategy for engaging
the host government and civil society to cease supporting
"defamation of religions" proposals at the UN Human Rights
Council (HRC) and elsewhere focuses on two main strategic
objectives: (1) urging the GOM to vote against such
resolutions (or at least abstain), in a manner that reflects
its already proven reputation as a moderate, tolerant
majority-Muslim nation; and (2) to continue to be a voice of
reason, behind the scenes, within the Arab League and other
groupings typically vote in favor of such resolutions. END
SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) In our formal demarches to the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and Cooperation and our less formal discussions with
Moroccan officials in other ministries -- including most
notably the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs
(MOEIA) (Septel) -- we consistently find our interlocutors to
be reasonable, tolerant and broadminded regarding the
counterproductive nature of "defamation of religion"
proposals and the divisiveness the engender. The vast range
of GOM officials, including King Mohammed VI in his role as
"The Commander of the Faithful," are proud of Morocco's
long-standing traditions as a tolerant, moderate nation.
Morocco's domestic and foreign policies emphasize the
importance of accepting and accommodating religious diversity
at home, and of engaging in cross-cultural and cross-cult
dialogue abroad. The GOM is rightly proud of the fact that
the tiny Christian and Jewish minorities in Morocco are
generally free to worship as they please, protected as
necessary under Moroccan legislation, and socially accepted
by the vast majority of Moroccans. It has also consistently
reached out to Israeli officials, despite mounting and shrill
criticism from domestic Islamist factions and some of its
more hard-line Arab allies.

3. (SBU) Within this positive context, our challenge is to
convince the Moroccan MFA to vote against (or abstain from
voting on) "defamation of religion" proposals in the
international arena in a way that reflects the tolerance and
domestic policies toward religion evinced by the GOM at home.
We know that Morocco consistently seeks to act as a "voice
of reason" within the Arab League and the Organization of the
Islamic Conference (OIC) in its discussions with Middle East
and North Africa (MENA) partners who are members of the HRC.
However, despite this helpful role, the GOM still tends to
vote with the Arab League bloc once the internal discussions
have finished and the unhelpful resolutions move to the
floor. Recently, we have had some luck in moving Morocco
toward "abstain" on other issues (namely Iran) despite the
pressure it faces from its Arab allies, but not on others.
This includes "defamation" resolutions, despite
off-the-record acknowledgments from MFA officials that those
resolutions do nothing to forward the GOM's other policy
goals -- i.e., dialogue, exchange, tolerance -- for the
region.

4. (SBU) We should not underestimate the importance of
voices of reason, such as Morocco's, within the Arab League
and OIC, even if those voices do not ultimately prevent
defamation resolutions from coming forward or vote with us
when a resolution comes to the floor. We view our MFA, MOEIA
and other GOM interlocutors as intellectual allies on these
issues, and will continue to dialogue with them in hopes of
expanding their room to maneuver against the defamation
resolutions. Finally, we note that as Staffdel Hogrefe heard
in September, intervening early so that the Moroccans can
assist us before the OIC and Arab League agree on language,
is vital.


*****************************************
Visit Embassy Rabat's Classified Website;
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Moro cco
*****************************************

JACKSON

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