INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Nigeria: Some Islamic Clerics Object To

Published: Fri 13 Dec 2002 04:10 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 003312
SIPDIS
DEPT FOR AF AND S/ES
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OVIP PROP PINS NI BUSH GEORGE
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: SOME ISLAMIC CLERICS OBJECT TO
POTUS VISIT
Ref: Abuja 3296
1. "Daily Trust," a Northern-oriented independent
newspaper based in Abuja, December 11 published a page
four article reporting the call by some Muslim clerics
in far-northern Katsina that the Government of Nigeria
cancel President Bush's visit if reports of an
upcoming visit are true.
2. Begin Text:
You are not welcome, Muslim clerics tell Bush
From Abdu Labaran, in Katsina
As the rumours of the impending visit of the American
President, George W. Bush, continue to make the
rounds, a groundswell of opposition to the visit is
already building up with Muslim clerics in Katsina
State telling the American number one citizen to stay
away from Nigeria as he is not welcome.
Uztaz Khalid Yunus and Ustaz AbdulBasir Unguwar Kawo
Kankara, two firebrand clerics of the Izalatul Bid'a
wa Ikamatus Sunna (Izala) Movement, expressed their
opposition to the visit in separate interviews with
Daily Trust, asserting that the American president's
visit to Nigeria will not benefit the country in any
way.
The clerics maintained that the visit "far from doing
any good to Nigerians will only further expose us to
more hardship as our meager resources will be
committed to hosting the visitor and his entourage, in
addition to the visit sending the wrong signal to the
Islamic and peace-loving communities that Nigeria not
only supports but endorses America's gang up policy
against weaker nations and its global anti-Islam
agenda."
Ustaz Khalid Yunus, who only last week Friday led a
moving prayer (Al-Qunut) that lasted for up to 20
minutes after the Juma'at prayer, viewed the visit as
a bad omen to Nigeria, expressing the believe (sic)
that nothing will bring the American president to
Nigeria if there is nothing in the visit for his
country.
"As far as American leadership is concerned, there is
only one interest and one world view; which is
America," he stated, saying that to expect President
Bush to come to Nigeria in the interest of Nigeria is
simply foolhardy as, according to him, the American
government does not think much of our country given
the treatment meted out to Nigerians visiting the US.
Calling on the Federal Government to call off the
visit if it is true, he asserted that the visit will
not benefit Nigeria since the several visits to
America by President Obasanjo have not helped Nigeria
or Nigerians.
Ustaz AbdulBasir, who also led in a special prayer
(Salatul Haja) on Saturday at Kofar Kaura Mosque where
the US, Britain and Israel were the target of the
prayer and special lecture, condemned the American
president's proposed visit to Nigeria, describing the
motive behind the visit as suspect.
He alleged that the motive of President Bush's visit
to Nigeria may not be unconnected with his
government's desire to drum up support for its
aggression against Saddam's Iraq and Israel's
aggression against Palestinians and their government
as well as America's thirst for Nigeria's crude oil.
Vowing to intensify prayers in mosques, he called on
Nigerians of all religions and the National Assembly
to prevail on President Obasanjo not to welcome the
American president and his entourage.
END TEXT.
3. Katsina is home to a particularly conservative
element of Muslim society and a small but growing
number of militant fundamentalists. Its border with
Niger permits easy interaction with extremists based
in that country (see also reftel). The attitudes
expressed in the article will find some resonance
among like-minded opponents of secular government
generally and the West (especially the U.S.)
particularly. However, a solid majority of Nigerian
Muslims would welcome a visit by President Bush.
The Embassy will continue to monitor media and other
sources for echoes of this article.
JETER
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