Oct 282014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/01/09MANILA186.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA186
2009-01-29 06:47
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO7621
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0186/01 0290647
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 290647Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3001
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000186

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM ELAB PGOV RP
SUBJECT: SECOND ULAMA CONFERENCE REACHES OUT TO PRESIDENT OBAMA

¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY: At the Philippines’ second-ever Ulama
Conference, conference organizers provided an open letter to
President Obama in which they expressed their heartfelt
appreciation for his effort to reach out to them — even as
early as in his inaugural address, and their desire to
strengthen ties of friendship with the people of the United
States. (The letter’s full text follows below.) Remarks by
Ambassador to the group were warmly welcomed by over 200
Muslim scholars assembled from the southern Philippines and
elsewhere. The Ambassador underscored U.S. respect for
Islam, and noted that the new U.S. administration wants to
build bridges to, and open dialogue with, the Muslim
community at large. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (U) The stated purpose of this second Ulama Conference in
the Philippines, a four-day event in Quezon City attended by
more than 200 Muslim leaders (including women) from Mindanao
and elsewhere in the Philippines, was to help the ulama
organize a national umbrella organization of Muslim religious
leaders. Thirty aleemat (Muslim women religious scholars)
joined the gathering to discuss their proposals for
organizing the Muslim community. During this second national
summit, the ulama sought to ratify the charter for their
organization and elect their governing board. They hoped the
conference would be successful in establishing a network with
the potential to be a major vehicle for peace and development
work, similar to the Christian religious network.

¶3. (U) Conference organizers presented the Ambassador with an
open letter to President Obama (text provided below). The
letter notes the President’s inaugural address and quotes a
“new way forward, based on mutual respect and mutual
interest.” It asks that the President address six aims
ranging from engaging the Muslim world to extending relief to
displaced people in Mindanao. Following her remarks, the
Ambassador offered a brief television interview in which she
reiterated President Obama’s respect for Islam, and his
desire to listen to what the rest of the world has to say.

¶4. (U) The Ambassador’s remarks focused on the respect that
the U.S. has for Muslims. She pointed out the background of
President Obama, and that his first interview with an
international press organization was with Al Arabiya (a
comment that received strong applause from the audience).
She emphasized that the President truly wants to hear the
concerns of the Muslim world, and pointed out how much she
has learned from the Muslim people during her many trips to
Mindanao. She congratulated the conference participants on
their taking the initiative to work together for peace and
development, and expressed the sincere wish of the USG that
Mindanao achieves the peace and prosperity that it so richly
deserves.

COMMENT
——-

¶5. (SBU) The gathering of more than 200 Muslim spiritual
leaders from throughout the region presented a rare
opportunity for the Ambassador to address — and more
importantly, listen to the concerns of — a group that has
sometimes felt marginalized in Philippine society. While
Mission officials invariably receive a warm welcome from
generally friendly Muslim communities in the Philippines, the
Ambassador’s mention of President Obama’s message of respect
for the Muslim world garnered an exceptionally enthusiastic
response, clearly reflecting the goodwill they feel toward
the President. Their letter to President Obama is very
positive. Most, if not all, of their requests for the United
States reflect efforts already underway.

¶6. (U) Begin text of letter:

2nd NATIONAL SUMMIT OF ULAMA IN THE PHILIPPINES
Quezon City, Philippines
January 26 to 29, 2009

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA

January 29, 2009

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

Dear Mr. President:

Greetings of peace and goodwill.

MANILA 00000186 002 OF 002

We, the undersigned participants to the 2nd National Ulama
Summit in the Philippines, held on January 26 to 29, 2009 at
the Imperial Palace Suites, Quezon City, Philippines, send
our heartfelt congratulations and felicitations to Your
Excellency for having been sworn into office as the first
American President with personal ties to the Islamic world,
Asia and Africa.

We take note of Your Excellency’s inaugural address on
January 20, 2009. We express our deep appreciation for your
statement assuring the Muslim world of a “new way forward,
based on mutual respect and mutual interest.” We also take
note with interest of Your Excellency’s description of
America as “a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and
child who seeks a future of peace and dignity.” And so in
the spirit of your recent pronouncement that “America will
start by listening, not dictating,” the Muslims in the
Philippines, with equal vigor and commitment to peace and the
dignity of humanity, hereby reach out across the ocean to
take outstretched hand and seek to renew and strengthen our
friendship with America and the American people.

On this momentous occasion, we make the following appeal to
Your Excellency, with goodwill and universal peace as our
primary aim:

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

¶2. 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;

¶3. 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;

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

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

¶6. 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.

In conclusion, we heard you loud and clear when you told the
Muslim world: “Americans are not your enemy.” Mr. President,
with respect and a conviction to improve relations between
Muslims and the West, we also say to you, “the Muslims are
not your enemy.”

We reiterate our felicitations and congratulations to Your
Excellency. Please accept our highest regard and good wishes
to the First Family and to the American people.

Thank you, Mr. President, and Godspeed.

Sincerely,

(SIGNATORIES)
KENNEY

   

 

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