C O N F I D E N T I A L ABUJA 000549
E.O. 12958: DECL:20MAR2013
TAGS: ASEC CASC KFLO MARR PREL PINR AMGT IZ NI
SUBJECT: TFIZ01: NIGERIA: NO DEMONSTRATIONS AGAINST IRAQ WAR
Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter. Reasons: 1.5 (B & D).
Â¶1. (U) SUMMARY: The critical Friday flashpoint has passed
quietly, with no reports of demonstrations against the U.S.-
led Coalition of the Willing (COW) taking place in Abuja or
elsewhere. Stern warnings by the authorities and moderate
sermons in Juma'at Mosques probably helped. END SUMMARY.
Â¶2. (SBU) The critical Friday afternoon flashpoint (1330-1530)
passed quietly March 21, with no reports of demonstrations
against the U.S.-led Coalition of the Willing (COW) taking
place. Public sentiment remains strongly against the attack,
with both Christians and Muslims condemning it. Both northern
and southern press reports have concentrated on opposition to
the war, concentrating on statements by the Pope, the French
and anyone else with negative comments.
Â¶3. (U) Police officials had warned evening of March 20 that
demonstrations against the war on Iraq would not be allowed.
Â¶4. (SBU) Imams and pastors throughout the country have been
holding vigils, praying for the innocent victims of the war.
Until now, though, the message has been to remain calm, with
some Imams advising the faithful that, while the COW efforts
were an attack on Islam, demonstrations would only be hijacked
by those with ulterior motives. The result would be injured
innocents and substantial property losses.
Â¶5. (C) COMMENT: Stern warnings by authorities, the calls for
restraint by key Imams (including the Chief Imam of the Abuja
National Mosque) and some Emirs, a pervasive sense of fatalism
and the seemingly slow pace of the military campaign (and the
lack of credible reports of huge civilian casualties) have
combined to diminish the immediate impetus to demonstrate
against the COW's intervention in Iraq. However, it is too
early to believe that the potential for protests, including
some that might turn violent, has passed. The Embassy will
continue to monitor the security situation for developments
which might produce demonstrations as the Coalition campaign