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Viewing cable 06THEHAGUE2515, EMBASSY HOSTS DUTCH-U.S. MUSLIM DIALOGUE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06THEHAGUE2515 2006-11-29 16:04 2011-01-26 18:06 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy The Hague
VZCZCXRO1595
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTC #2515/01 3331612
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 291612Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7534
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHAT/AMCONSUL AMSTERDAM 1876
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 002515 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958:  N/A 
TAGS: SCUL SOCI KPAO PHUM PREL KISL PINR NL
SUBJECT: EMBASSY HOSTS DUTCH-U.S. MUSLIM DIALOGUE 
 
 
THE HAGUE 00002515  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
THIS MESS...




THIS MESSAGE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. 
PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY. 

1. (U) SUMMARY. The Embassy and the Leadership Conference 
on Civil Rights Education Fund convened the mission's most 
extensive outreach effort to date on November 1-2 when more 
than 120 Dutch and American Muslims, government officials, 
policy experts, civil rights and business leaders gathered 
for intensive dialogues on social integration and managing 
diversity. The dialogue hosted two effective citizen-to- 
citizen dialogue programs attended by 72 Muslim 
Participants and 48 Partners. Active participation by 
Ambassador Arnall, other Embassy staff, and American 
citizens succeeded in improving the perception of American 
society as a whole and in dispelling many misconceptions 
about the treatment and situation of Muslims in America. 

2. (U) Participants responded enthusiastically, by sharing 
personal experiences, acknowledging challenges, and 
identifying best practices for increased civic participation 
on both sides of the Atlantic. Press coverage was favorable 
with the leading Dutch daily, De Telegraaf, calling it a 
remarkable initiative. The Dialogue also laid the 
groundwork for future, broader discussions with all sectors 
of society on managing diversity and social integration, 
which will form the basis of our outreach strategy for the 
coming year. Please see www.diversitydialogues.nl for 
further information. END SUMMARY. 


DIALOGUE PROCESS - BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER 
------------------------------------------- 

3. (U) Two years after the shocking murder of Dutch 
filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Dutch-born Islamist, the Dutch 
remain focused on defusing social tensions associated with 
the country's Muslims. The Dutch continue to grapple with 
integration challenges and in response the Embassy hosted a 
conference entitled Sharing Ideas Building Bridges: a 
Dutch-U.S. Muslim Dialogue on November 1-2. The Embassy 
convened the initiative with the Leadership Conference on 
Civil Rights Education Fund (LCCREF), a Washington D.C. 
based non-profit organization working as an umbrella for 180 
national organizations on diversity, social integration, and 
civil rights. 

4. (U) Seventy-two Dutch and U.S. Muslims, drawn from a 
broad cross-section of society met as Dialogue Participants. 
Many, including Shaykh Muhammed Hishan Kabbani, Chairman of 
the Islamic Supreme Council of America, praised the Embassy 
for bringing together Muslims of such different ethnic 
backgrounds. Participants attended dialogue sessions 
moderated by professional facilitators on such topics as 
identity, civic participation, media, youth, women's issues 
and economic opportunity. 

5. (U) Action plans presented by each group during the 
closing plenary included: combating high school drop-out 
rates and unemployment within minority groups; providing 
media training to promote a diversity of Muslim voices, 
promoting role models among Moroccan youth; educating 
Muslims and the general public about the Muslim immigrant 
experience and heritage; and narrowing the generation gap 
within Muslim immigrant communities by building stronger 
social networks across age demographics and experience. 

6. (U) Some 48 Dialogue Partners met in parallel sessions. 
American partners included: Matt Bryza, European Deputy 
Assistant Secretary (DOS); Farah Pandith, Director for 
Middle East Regional Initiatives (NSC); Wade Henderson, 
President of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights;. 
Presenting Dutch Partners included: Maria van der Hoeven, 
Minister of Education; Ahmed Aboutaleb, Amsterdam Deputy 
Mayor; Paul Scheffer, Professor of Urban Studies at 
Amsterdam University and an authority on multi-cultural 
society; and Jo Ritzen, former Minister of Education and 
current President of Maastricht University. 

6. (U) These Dialogue Partners were then invited to join 
the Muslim Participants during a final plenary session to 
provide feedback and comments on the action plans 
presented. Partners were also encouraged to connect with 
the Participants during a final lunch, evening reception, 
and closing dinner. 

DIALOGUE LAYS GROUNDWORK FOR FURTHER ENGAGEMENT 
--------------------------------------------- -- 

7. (U) The Dialogue successfully met its goals of building 
bridges among and between American and Dutch Muslims. Many 

THE HAGUE 00002515 002.2 OF 002 


spoke openly of the need for stronger contact networks 
through which mainstream Muslims can communicate and 
organize. Others were excited to learn of new activists and 
organizations in the U.S. working on these issues. Vowing to 
continue the momentum begun at the conference, some 
Americans initiated a new network of Muslims in the 
Washington, D.C., area and pledged to meet regularly. 

8. (U) In addition to the action plans, a handful of 
initiatives arose organically during the dialogue as 
connections were made and ideas were shared. For example, a 
group of Dutch Moroccan business executives -- many meeting 
each other for the first time -- discussed practical 
solutions to increasing Moroccan representation in Dutch 
businesses. Another Dutch Participant described during the 
closing plenary how fellow participants were the missing 
link, helping him get funding for an upcoming job fair for 
minority students. 

9. (U) In a spontaneous and motivating closing speech, 
Ahmed Aboutaleb, a well regarded Dutch Muslim politican, 
congratulated the event and reiterated the importance of 
building trust within our societies. Ambassador Arnall's 
warmly received remarks reiterated the importance of vision 
and encouraged all present to continue the dialogue begun 
during the conference. Many expressed gratitude to the 
Ambassador, Mrs. Arnall, and Embassy for their graciousness 
as co-conveners of the conference. A desire for further 
dialogue was a common refrain, with some calling 
specifically for future dialogues to include representatives 
of Christian, Hindu, and Jewish communities in both 
countries. 

COMMENT: FOCUS ON CITIZEN-TO-CITIZEN DIALOGUE 
--------------------------------------------- -- 

10. (SBU) Integration remains a sensitive topic in the 
Netherlands. Our Dutch contacts were initially skeptical 
about the Embassy's hosting of a Dutch-U.S. Muslim Dialogue, 
despite assurances from all levels, including the 
Ambassador, that the Embassy was not seeking to lecture the 
Dutch on integration matters. Press coverage was favorable 
however, with the leading Dutch daily, De Telegraaf, calling 
it a remarkable initiative. 

11. (SBU) To ensure an honest and constructive dialogue, 
the Embassy conscientiously protected Dialogue Participants' 
privacy. By design, government officials, including Embassy 
staff, press, and Dialogue Partners, did not take part in 
the dialogue sessions. This approach earned Participant 
trust, effectively disarming those who were more skeptical 
of the USG's motives for holding the conference. 

12. (SBU) The Embassy believes that the Dialogue's most 
valuable contribution was to connect knowledgeable 
individuals (i.e. role models) with those actively seeking 
guidance. Embassy strongly supports the grassroots efforts 
reflected in follow-on initiatives and action plans 
developed during the Dialogue. The Embassy will continue to 
provide speakers focusing on diversity and plans to continue 
the momentum begun at the Dialogue by convening an alumni 
event in the near future, perhaps in conjunction with the 
celebration of Martin Luther King's birthday. These 
activities are consistent with Secretary Rice's calls for 
increased engagement with Muslim communities worldwide. 
Moreover, they further the broader goals of fostering a 
richer understanding of diversity within American and Dutch 
societies, including the need for greater social 
integration, religious pluralism, and equal opportunity in 
housing, education, and employment.