Embassy Row

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South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasoolimplied that intolerance among the country’s black majority led to his dismissal in 2008 as the premier of the picturesque Western Cape province, when he met U.S. Ambassador Donald Gips in 2009.

Mr. Rasool, who describes himself as a moderate Muslim, told Mr. Gips that he was “redeployed” from the premiership by the African National Congress (ANC), the dominant political party, because the “national majority is a regional minority,” according to a U.S. diplomatic cable released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

Mr. Rasool was “suggesting that the ANC’s national black majority grew tired of preferences given to the large colored [mixed-race] and Muslim population of the Western Cape,” Mr. Grips said in the December 2009 report to the State Department in Washington.

The former premier added that the Western Cape’s “lack of a black middle class resulted in perceived inequalities as white and colored business outpaced their black-owned competitors for government contracts,” Mr. Gips reported.

He also revealed that “some ANC leaders were suspicious of the growing Muslim investment in the Western Cape,” the ambassador said.

Mr. Rasool, who served as premier from 2004 to 2008, said he worked to promote moderate Islam in the Cape Town area and throughout the province.

“He told the ambassador that he also orchestrated the drafting and delivery in every mosque in the Western Cape of a sermon denouncing extremism,” Mr. Gips said.

Mr. Rasool was appointed ambassador to the United States last year.


Dozens of Tunisian-Americans and immigrants from the North African nation that just overthrew a dictator shouted for justice outside the Saudi Embassy in Washington on Tuesday. They demanded the Saudis turn over Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the repressive president who fled to Saudi Arabia after massive street protests toppled his government.

However, as our correspondent Ben Birnbaum reported, one sign the protesters held stood out among the normal messages scrawled on posters at other demonstrations in the national capital: “Mark Zuckerberg, Thank you.”

The tribute to the founder of Facebook underscored the social networking that helped build the intensity of protests, as bloggers sent messages about the Tunisian turmoil across the globe while the government raced to shut them down.

The Tunisian uprising already is being calling the “Facebook revolution.”

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About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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