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WikiLeaks: Assyrian Orthodox Patriarch Criticizes U.S.

Posted: Friday, October 14, 2011 at 09:54 AM CT


Viewing cable 09DAMASCUS389, ASSYRIAN ORTHODOX PATRIARCH CRITICIZES U.S. AT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09DAMASCUS389 2009-06-04 15:38 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Damascus
VZCZCXYZ0006
OO RUEHWEB
DE RUEHDM #0389/01 1551538
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 041538Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6440
INFO RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0590
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0559
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0645
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 0687
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA PRIORITY 0036
C O N F I D E N T I A L DAMASCUS 000389 

SIPDIS 

PARIS FOR WALLER, LONDON FOR TSOU 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/04/2019 
TAGS: PREL PHUM SCUL SY
SUBJECT: ASSYRIAN ORTHODOX PATRIARCH CRITICIZES U.S. AT 
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE 

REF: DAMASCUS 00375

Classified By: CDA Maura Connelly for reason 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (U)  SUMMARY: During the opening session of a two-day 
international conference entitled "The Message of Peace in 
Islam," the Assyrian Orthodox Patriarch Mar Zakka Ewas 
attacked the U.S. for using the fight against "Islamic 
terrorism" as a pretext for extending its hegemony in the 
region.  The Ministry of Religious Endowments, in cooperation 
with the British Embassy, hosted the international conference 
on June 1 and 2.  The event brought together an international 
cast of religious leaders, educators, diplomats, politicians, 
and economic scholars, from the U.K., Egypt, Qatar, and Syria 
to address topics of religious extremism, poverty, and human 
rights.  END SUMMARY 

---------------------------- 
The Assyrian Orthodox Attack 
---------------------------- 

2. (SBU)  A priest in the Assyrian Orthodox Church delivered 
the prepared speech of the Assyrian Orthodox Patriarch Mar 
Zakka Ewas, who was unable to attend, before a packed 
auditorium of more than 300 people.  The Patriarch's speech 
lambasted the U.S. for having manipulated the events of 9/11 
for political gain.  The U.S., he said, preferred the 
"language of force" over the "language of diplomacy" in its 
effort to "force its hegemony on the world and plunder the 
world's resources." 

3. (SBU)  The speech blamed the U.S. for having failed both 
to develop a cogent definition of "terrorism" and to 
delineate between "terrorism" and "resistance," as the rest 
of the international community had done.  In fact, he argued, 
the U.S. had used "Islamic terrorism" as a "Trojan horse to 
attack any part of the world it wanted."  Hoping to distance 
the Christian church in Syria from its western counterparts, 
the Patriarch called on Syrian Muslims to continue living in 
harmony with their Christian brethren and to remember that 
just as Islam did not equal terrorism, the West was not 
exclusively representative of Christianity. 

-------------------------------- 
Other Opening Remarks More Muted 
-------------------------------- 

4. (SBU)  Also featured at the opening session were British 
Ambassador Simon Collis, Syrian Grand Mufti Dr. Ahmad Badr 
Hassoun, Syrian Minister of Religious Endowments Dr. Muhammad 
Abdel Sattar al-Sayed, and Dr. Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan 
al-Butti, the Dean of the Faculty of Sharia' at Damascus 
University.  None of the aforementioned speakers made any 
direct attacks on, or even obliquely referred to, the U.S. 
Only al-Butti approached the hot-button issue of Islam's role 
in politics, musing, "When political leadership is dominated 
by religious control, I believe peace will dominate all over 
the world."  Al-Butti concluded his remarks by admonishing 
his "brothers" in the audience to bring political life under 
divine control. 

5. (SBU)  Both the Grand Mufti and Minister al-Sayed made 
general reference to the importance of President Bashar 
al-Asad's leadership, and particularly noted how his recent 
speech at the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) 
Conference held in Damascus on May 22 (reftel) had clearly 
articulated the Syrian attitude towards regional peace and 
Islam.  Al-Sayed went so far as to say that Asad's OIC speech 
was the "main axis of this conference."  On the subject of 
terrorism, al-Sayed referred to Asad's OIC axiom that 
terrorism was not a security issue, but an intellectual one; 
to fend off terrorism one must exercise "intellectual 
security" in the face of any type of extremism. 

6. (C)  COMMENT:  The SARG has long touted Syria's 
environment of religious egalitarianism, pointing out that it 
is one of the few Arab countries to have successfully 
promoted the peaceful coexistence of different religious 
groups under a secular government. 
 
7. (C) COMMENT CONTINUED: The British have been seeking to 
establish cooperation on counter-radicalization (of Muslims) 
as a basis of their bilateral relationship.  UK Ambassador 
Collis, however, told Charge that the Assyrian Patriarch's 
remarks had been unacceptable and that he (Collis) would 
raise the matter with the Ministry.  At no time during the 
five opening speeches did the subject of tensions between 
Sunni and Shi,a come up.  This subject is widely perceived 
by Syrians to be too risky for public debate in that it risks 
one of the SARG's favorite reasons for jailing 
activists--namely, the crime of "inciting sectarian strife." 
As a result, the approach toward Islam by all the speakers 
was generally monolithic and uncritical.  END COMMENT 
 

CONNELLY


Perspective: Guest-Editorial: WikiLeaks reveals Patriarch Zakka’s bad judgment

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