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Cablegate: Engagement with Muslim Communities in Switzerland

VZCZCXYZ0023
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSW #0031 0252131
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 252131Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY BERN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6278

UNCLAS BERN 000031

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/PGI (I.WEINSTEIN), EUR/CE, AND EUR/PPD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KISL KPAO PGOV PHUM PREL SCUL SOCI SZ XG
SUBJECT: ENGAGEMENT WITH MUSLIM COMMUNITIES IN SWITZERLAND

REF: STATE 127215

1. (SBU) Embassy Bern is taking a multi-disciplinary approach
to engagement with Muslim communities in Switzerland,
coordinating efforts between the Political-Economic and
Public Affairs sections (reftel). Switzerland has a Muslim
population of approximately 320,000 (4.3 percent of the total
population of Switzerland), with most individuals practicing
a moderate form of Islam and originating from the Balkan
region. While Post's relatively limited staffing and other
resources affects the amount of programming possible, we have
initiated and/or participated in the following events, and we
look forward to continuing our engagement activities along
these lines:

-- The Embassy hosts an annual Iftar dinner at the Chief of
Mission's Residence, to which post invites local Muslim
leaders, ambassadors of Organizations of the Islamic
Conference (OIC) countries, and community leaders
representing other religions. In keeping with this
tradition, the Ambassador hosted an Iftar dinner on August 31.

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-- Post plans periodic events, including speaking
engagements, and maintains regular contacts with Swiss and
Switzerland-based Muslims. A recent example includes hosting
Tayyibah Taylor, magazine editor and lecturer on Islam and
Muslim women, during her participation in the traveling
speaker program in which she spoke of her experiences as a
Muslim woman in America. Public Affairs arranged meetings
between Taylor and community leaders throughout Switzerland.

-- Post regularly engages in outreach efforts. For example,
on November 7, poloff represented the Embassy at an Open Day
of Mosques event hosted by a Swiss Muslim organization. On
November 24, poloff attended the Dialogue Institute's Annual
Banquet in Zurich. The Dialogue Institute is an NGO founded
by Switzerland-based Muslims working to promote inter-faith
and cross-cultural dialogues.

-- Post submitted nominees to participate in the President's
Entrepreneurship Summit. Post also invited Swiss Muslim
entrepreneurs to a January 13 roundtable luncheon discussion
hosted by the Ambassador. The theme of the roundtable was
"innovation and entrepreneurship in a globalized world," and
the guests included Swiss business and social leaders of
varied backgrounds. (Note: Neither of the two entrepreneurs
of Muslim faith who were invited to the luncheon were able to
attend, due to other commitments; we will continue to seek to
include Swiss-based Muslim entrepreneurs in other similar
networking and dialogue activities. End Note).
CARTER

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