Viewing cable 06MUSCAT297
Title: MFA CLARIFIES RELIGION NOTE, SAYS NOT DIRECTED AT

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06MUSCAT2972006-03-01 15:20:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Muscat
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 MUSCAT 000297 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR DRL/IRF, NEA/ARPI, AND CA/OCS/ACS 
CAIRO FOR RCO (MEHICKEY) 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PHUM CASC KIRF MU
SUBJECT: MFA CLARIFIES RELIGION NOTE, SAYS NOT DIRECTED AT 
AMERICANS 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
¶1. (SBU) Reportedly in reaction to diplomatic missions that 
had rented space for unsanctioned religious worship, the 
Foreign Ministry issued a broadly worded circular on February 
18 reiterating standing regulations governing non-Muslim 
places of worship.  MFA clarified points of concern to the 
Embassy, assuring us that no new restrictions were being 
imposed and that no American citizens were the subject of 
scrutiny.  End summary. 
 
-------------------- 
Not Targeted At U.S. 
-------------------- 
 
¶2. (SBU) On February 26, Pol/Econ Chief called on MFA 
Consular Affairs Department Chief Ambassador Yahya al-Wuhaibi 
to seek clarification on a February 18 circular he issued to 
foreign diplomatic missions in Muscat listing regulations 
governing non-Muslim places of worship in Oman and the proper 
role of embassies in matters concerning them.  Al-Wuhaibi 
reassured that the circular sought to pull together in one 
document disparate regulations that had previously been 
issued by the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs (MARA), 
which MFA then issued as guidance to diplomatic missions.  He 
also intimated that some foreign missions in Muscat had gone 
so far as to rent buildings that were converted into places 
of worship without seeking necessary registration and 
approval.  The circular was targeted at those egregious 
examples, he explained, and is not indicative of a general 
clamp-down on non-Muslim places of worship. 
 
----------------- 
New Restrictions? 
----------------- 
 
¶3. (SBU) P/E Chief raised questions about the circular's 
statement that "it is not permissible to have gatherings to 
perform religious practices at residences."  (Note: This is 
known to occur among at least one denomination in Muscat. 
End note.)  Al-Wuhaibi said the circular concerns residences 
that essentially are in full-time use as places of worship, 
not homes that occasionally host small groups of 
co-religionists.  He reassured P/E Chief that no American 
citizens had been identified to him as taking part in 
objectionable behavior. 
 
¶4. (SBU) The circular also stated that "foreign missions are 
not allowed to intervene in any way in the affairs of 
non-Muslim places of worship, nor receiving delegations from 
these places of worship, except through coordination with the 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs."  P/E Chief noted that any U.S. 
citizen, even those affiliated with places of worship, has 
the right to seek the aid of the embassy, and that such 
access was enshrined in the Vienna Convention on Consular 
Relations.  Al-Wuhaibi acknowledged the U.S. viewpoint, 
responding that the Embassy should at least notify MFA should 
any issues come to its attention involving non-Muslim places 
of worship. 
 
------------------ 
Familiar Red-Lines 
------------------ 
 
¶5. (U) The circular reiterated known regulations on 
non-Muslim places of worship, including: 
 
-- non-Muslim places of worship may not be established 
without prior permission from MARA; 
 
-- places of worship cannot be used for non-religious 
purposes, nor contribute to, establish, or participate in any 
association or club whatsoever; 
 
-- places of worship may not carry out activities or publish 
materials without prior permission from MARA, and 
distribution of publications are limited to followers of the 
same denomination; and 
 
-- MARA remains the entity supervising places of worship and 
that all dealings and matters required by places of worship 
shall be handled through MARA. 
 
It should be noted that Muslim places of worship operate 
under generally similar regulations, but were not addressed 
in this particular MFA circular. 
BALTIMORE