Oct 282014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/06/09MANILA1220.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA1220
2009-06-08 08:43
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO2856
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1220/01 1590843
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 080843Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4312
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 001220

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM ELAB PGOV RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINE MUSLIM RELIGIOUS LEADERS REACT TO PRESIDENT OBAMA’S CAIRO SPEECH

REF: MANILA 186 (SECOND ULAMA CONFERENCE REACHES OUT
TO PRESIDENT OBAMA)

¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Muslim leaders from the National Ulama
Conference of the Philippines addressed a letter to President
Obama June 5 expressing their sincere appreciation for the
President’s remarks last week in Cairo on U.S. relations with
the Muslim world. The letter (full text para. 5), delivered
to the Ambassador by Philippine Council for Islam and
Democracy Lead Convenor Amina Rasul, encourages the U.S. to
continue its support for peace and development in Mindanao,
reiterating points made in the Conference’s January 29
congratulatory letter to the President (reftel). The letter
further commends President Obama for defining America’s new
relationship with Muslims as one based on “mutual interest
and mutual respect.” During her June 4 visit to Zamboanga
City for the launch of a U.S.-sponsored peace initiative
(septel), the Ambassador personally encouraged Mindanao’s
religious leaders to watch President Obama’s highly
anticipated speech to be delivered later that day.
Afterwards, in a special note to the Ambassador, Rasul
described how some Philippine ulama were nearly brought to
tears as they listened to President Obama’s speech and
absorbed his message. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (SBU) Muslim leaders from the National Ulama Conference of
the Philippines in a June 5 letter to President Obama
expressed their “deep appreciation” for the President’s offer
of a “hand of friendship” in his June 4 remarks in Cairo.
They commended President Obama for seeking to build a “new
beginning” with Muslims based on “mutual interest and mutual
respect.” While acknowledging the “critical role” of U.S.
relations with the Arab world, the letter asks the President
to place “equal focus on Muslims from Southeast Asia,” which,
the letter’s signatories state, “is home to some of the more
vibrant democratic Muslim communities.” The signatories
specifically seek continued U.S. support on peace efforts
between the Philippine government and Muslim rebels in
Mindanao in the southern Philippines and for development
programs to “bring prosperity and dignity” to Mindanao’s
Muslims.

¶3. (SBU) In a demonstration of enduring U.S. support for
peace and development initiatives in Mindanao, the Ambassador
attended the June 4 launch in Zamboanga City of the
U.S.-supported OneWoman Initiative alongside members of the
National Ulama Conference of the Philippines, local religious
leaders, and officers from the Philippine Council for Islam
and Democracy (septel). The Council’s Lead Convenor Amina
Rasul and her mother, former Senator Santanina Rasul, who
serves as advisor to the Council, are respectively Director
and Founder of the Magbassa Kita Foundation, which received a
grant in March through the OneWoman Initiative to provide
Philippine Muslim women with skills training in conflict
management and peace building. In her remarks at the launch
event, the Ambassador noted the important role that women
peace advocates can play in mediating conflict in Mindanao.
The Ambassador also called special attention to President
Obama’s highly anticipated speech on U.S. engagement with the
Muslim world, and urged all present to watch it later that
evening to understand President Obama’s vision for how
communities can bridge the differences between them.

¶4. (SBU) Rasul’s note to the Ambassador that accompanied the
letter described the positive and emotional impact that
President Obama’s speech had on religious leaders who had
convened in Zamboanga City June 4 for a regional conference.
Some of the ulama, Rasul wrote, including a few who attended
the OneWoman Initiative launch earlier that day, were almost
in tears as they listened. Other public reactions were less
emotional, but credited President Obama for his unprecedented
outreach. One influential Muslim academic in Mindanao called
the President’s speech a “bold, balanced, and frank
statement” on the direction of U.S. dialogue with the Muslim
world.

¶5. (U) Begin text of letter:

June 5, 2009

HIS EXCELLENCY
PRESIDENT BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA
Washington, D.C.
United States of America

Dear Mr. President:

Greetings of peace and goodwill!

MANILA 00001220 002 OF 003

We, the Muslim religious leaders from the southern Mindanao
island of the Philippines, would like to express our deep
appreciation for offering “a hand of friendship to Islam and
addressing an array of quandaries and conflicts dividing the
two cultures” made during a speech on American and Muslim
relations in Cairo.

We commend you for seeking “a new beginning between the
United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon
mutual interest and mutual respect.” And while we realize
the critical role of your country’s relations with the Arab
world, it is our hope that you would also place equal focus
on the Muslims from Southeast Asia. Contrary to the
misconceptions of some, not all Muslims are Arabs. In fact,
of the estimated 1.2 billion Muslims in the world, 60% live
in Asia (with almost one-third of them living in Southeast
Asia) and only 15% are Arabs. Parenthetically, the four
nations with the largest Muslim populations, Indonesia (194
million), India (150 million), Pakistan (145 million), and
Bangladesh (130 million), are in Asia. This also includes
the minority Muslim populations in the Philippines, Thailand
and Singapore. In fact, as you courageously addressed the
issue of democracy in the Middle East, our region is home to
some of the more vibrant democratic Muslim communities.

As you made clear that your country “is not and never will be
at war with Islam” but that the United States “will
relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave
threat to (y)our (nation’s) security,” we express the hope
that you would pay particular attention to empowering the
moderate sections of the Muslim population as a means to
counter radicalization. We, the Muslims in Southeast Asia,
are known for being moderate.

While we praise your bold efforts to address the root cause
of the problem in the Middle East by recognizing the right of
the Palestinians to their homeland and a state of their own,
we wish to reiterate the declaration that we made when we
congratulated you last January 2009 on your election as the
first African-American President of the United States:

¶1. To engage the Muslim world, particularly the Southeast
Asian Muslims and the ulama sector, through dialogue and
cooperation that will benefit our communities and humanity.

¶2. To vigorously support the peace process in Mindanao to
end the 40-year armed conflict which has resulted in 600,000
displaced and hundreds killed since August 2008, and work to
bring the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) back to the negotiating table
as soon as possible;

¶3. To support the legitimate and inherent right of the
Bangsamoro people to self-determination.

¶4. To support the full implementation of the 1996 Final
Peace Agreement between the Moro National Liberation Front
(MNLF) and the Philippine government.

¶5. To extend massive relief and rehabilitation assistance to
internally displaced persons in Mindanao, particularly in
conflict-affected areas, through socio-economic development
programs that will bring prosperity and dignity to our
people;

Finally, we commend your efforts to forge closer ties and
understanding with Muslims from all over the world. We join
you in condemning acts of violence and we unite with you in
deploring war and the evils that it produces. We hope you
can come and visit us in the Philippines, should you visit
Indonesia and South East Asia.

Peace, we sincerely believe, is the only war worth fighting
for.

Thank you, Mr. President, and Godspeed.

Sincerely,

(Signatories)

And other Ulama from Sulu, Tawi Tawi, Basilan, and Zamboanga
City, attending the Regional Consultations of the National
Ulama Conference of the Philippines

End text of letter.

MANILA 00001220 003 OF 003

KENNEY

   

 

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