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HM the King Sends Message to Participants in the 2nd International Conference on Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue

 

HM King Mohammed VI sent a message to the participants in the second edition of the International Conference on Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue, held on Sept. 10-12 in Fez, under the theme of the otherness.

Here follows the full text of the royal message read out by minister of state for human rights Mustapha Ramid:

Mr. Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization,

Madam President, Secretary-General of the International Organization of La Francophonie,

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me pleasure to send a message to this important conference which is being held in the Kingdom of Morocco's spiritual and cultural capital and which has brought together people deeply committed to the values of peace and dialogue.

Convening this second International Conference in the city of Fez, which is steeped in history, is not a random choice. Fez has always been a land of dialogue, peace, coexistence and spiritual fulfilment.

I wish to avail myself of this opportunity to commend ISESCO and the International Organization of La Francophonie on their continuing efforts to bring civilizations closer together and to promote interaction and dialogue between peoples. I also wish to praise Ms. Michaelle Jean and Dr. Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri for their unremitting efforts and their personal commitment in this regard.

The convening of this conference in the Kingdom of Morocco is the international community’s acknowledgement of my country’s unwavering commitment to the values underpinning inter-cultural, inter-religious dialogue. It also attests to my country’s active role as a founding member of the Alliance of Civilizations - a forum which brings together national and international actors working to promote the ideals of peace.

By hosting this conference, my country is sending a strong signal, reflecting its determination to set off a new dynamic – one that would enable us to pave the way, together, for innovative pathways to ensure respect for cultural and religious diversity as well as a common commitment to the virtues of dialogue and to respect for others.

 

This forum, which has brought us together today, is called upon to deepen reflection on dialogue and understanding among civilizations and to raise awareness about the urgent need for them. Further integrity, greater vigilance and active involvement in building a new world order for peace are needed today, more than ever before.

Integrity is imperative because it is consistent with moral values and with a keen sense of right and wrong, both of which serve to uphold truth. As for vigilance, it is required by the nature of the world’s current evolution, which calls for swift, sensible reactions.

With regard to the new world order for peace, that is precisely what we hope to build together, observing the need for coexistence and acceptance of diversity and difference, and allowing for development and for greater security, growth and prosperity.

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Hospitality, a typical Moroccan characteristic, bespeaks a generosity of mind as well. It is nurtured by respect and it thrives on a belief in otherness and cultural diversity. I have sought to reflect that distinctive feature - which characterizes our diverse yet united nation - through a number of initiatives at the national, regional and international levels.

These are the lofty values I have sought to promote since my accession to the throne. I have spared no effort to build on achievements dating back to times immemorial.

The Moroccan model is unique in the region, be it in terms of the country’s Constitution, its culture or long history. Indeed, our history attests to a long-established tradition of coexistence on Moroccan soil - particularly between Muslims and Jews - and to openness to other religions.

This original model, which is based on the Commandership of the Faithful and the Maliki rite, is the result of a set of wide-ranging reforms. It aims to shield the Moroccan society against the demons of ideological manipulation and subversive forces, using, to this end, enlightened religious training based on moderation and tolerance.

Some of the key elements underpinning this policy include the 2008 Ulema Charter, the local religious supervision plan, the rehabilitation of schools for religious education and the review of the religious education curriculum in school.

In the same vein, Morocco trains imams as well as male and female religious guides who preach in Morocco, Africa and Europe. It also seeks to deconstruct the radical religious discourse by promoting an alternative narrative advocating tolerance, concord and peace. I also seek to promote a policy of closeness to the citizens, providing them with guidance, especially through the Higher Ulema Council and local religious councils.

 

Moreover, I have launched projects to restore Jewish cemeteries, renovate Mellahs and refurbish Jewish religious sites in general.

In Morocco, there is no difference between a Muslim and a Jewish citizen. They celebrate religious events together. Our Jewish citizens attend services in synagogues and practice their faith in a safe environment, holding annual commemorations and making regular visits to Jewish religious sites. Together with their Muslim fellow citizens, they work for the well-being and advancement of the motherland.

As for Christian residents and temporary visitors, they have always practiced their faith freely in churches. Among my ancestors, there was a Sultan who donated land for the construction of a church, which it is still open to worshippers to this day.

Throughout history, Moroccans have shown strong commitment to mutual understanding as well as a keen sense of acceptance of others. This attests to an awareness of the need to preserve the shared memory and the coexistence between the followers of the three monotheistic religions, particularly during the Andalusian era.

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Cultural coexistence is part and parcel of the culture of dialogue. To achieve that coexistence, peoples need to understand each other by committing to earnest, permanent dialogue.

This is what characterizes the Moroccan experience. Cultural coexistence in Morocco is a reflection of the country’s unity. The latter is shaped by the convergence of the Arab, Amazigh, and Saharan-Hassani components of our identity, which is as much African as it is Andalusian, Jewish and Mediterranean.

As ever, Morocco will remain deeply committed to a moderate kind of Islam - a faith which is consistent with the universal values of mankind, particularly those of tolerance and dialogue. True Islam is based on acceptance of others and on moderation. It rejects compulsion and upholds diversity, in accordance with what Almighty God has wanted for us. He says in Surah Al-Maida (the Table): "If God had so willed, He would have made you a single people".

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This conference is a good opportunity to take stock of what has been accomplished following the Call of Fez, the first building block in the Fez Process. That Call underscored the urgent need for new forms of cultural interaction and understanding.

 

The rise in ideological conflict and in various forms of ethnic discrimination and communal violence requires joint, cohesive and effective action. Nothing should dampen the will to capitalize on achievements and open up prospects for future work according to a practical plan of action and appropriate follow-up mechanisms.

This means all the actors concerned, the international community and people of goodwill should get actively involved in order to tackle the confusion and turmoil gripping the world today as benchmarks and commonly agreed frames of reference are being challenged amid rising intolerance, inward-looking tendencies, violence and extremism.

Civilizations are commonly defined as the product of a shared human heritage which shaped science and the arts, developed ethics and honed skills. Having said that, I believe it does not make much sense to talk about a 'clash of civilizations’, for clashes imply violence and exclusion, whereas civilizations cannot but be based on peace, dialogue, cooperation, mutual appreciation and creativity.

Our meeting today is therefore an opportunity to share experiences and best practices in this area.

It is also an occasion to remind ourselves that the secret of the culture of coexistence - in which we believe and which is as old as mankind itself - lies in its ability to evolve and to adapt to different variables in a world in which time and spatial barriers have been shrinking.

An example of this trend is the emergence of new forms of conflict which have forced a thorough review of the global approach to migration, reshaping patterns of communication on this phenomenon.

Whereas some perceive migration only as a challenge, Morocco sees it as an opportunity in which it has been investing, thereby reflecting the pride it takes in its African roots. As a result, the Kingdom has been receiving a steadily growing number of migrants from sub-Saharan countries consistent with the proactive, humanitarian migration policy we have been applying.

We have welcomed people coming from sister nations to this African land, with their different religions, cultures, traditions, family habits and lifestyles.

This voluntary policy is in line with our country’s international obligations. Building on that policy, we have organized two campaigns for migrants to regularize their status and launched several programs aimed, among other things, at ensuring the integration of migrants, asylum-seekers and their families.

In the face of alarmist rhetoric, which sees migration as a destructive phenomenon, the Kingdom of Morocco - a country itself partly shaped by several migratory flows - adopted a unique, proactive approach. Be it at the regional and international levels or at the national and local levels, the Kingdom of Morocco commits to a humanitarian approach that takes into account the global and local contexts and respects the rights and dignity of migrants.

 

That is the essence of the message I was keen to send - in connection with the African Agenda on Migration - to the 30th AU Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in January 2018.

The Agenda was prepared using an integrated, participatory approach. It includes ideas, proposals and views put forward by a number of stakeholders, including civil society actors and researchers. Through that Agenda, I sought to correct a number of misunderstandings and misconceptions in connection with migration.

Morocco will continue to work along those lines with the same commitment and dedication, especially in preparation for some upcoming events, particularly the 11th Summit of the World Forum on Migration and Development, to be held from 5 to 7 December 2018, and the Intergovernmental Conference which will adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, due to be held on the 10th and 11th of the same month.

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I look forward to today's meeting delivering a strong response to current challenges. I should like us to stand together against those who cast doubt on our values, misrepresent frames of reference, cultivate reclusiveness or fan the flames of extremism, xenophobia, fanaticism and other forms of discrimination. To be effective, our joint action should be sustainable, comprehensive and flexible to suit changing environments. However important it may be, individual will is not enough. In fact, only a collective resolve capitalizing on the efforts of government, civil society, the media, academics and citizens can tackle reclusiveness and intellectual extremism.

Inter-faith, intercultural dialogue is not an abstract concept or a form of intellectual luxury. Determination - on its own - is not enough in this domain. In fact, dialogue is born out of deeply held convictions which require strong commitment, hard work and matching words with action.

Five years after the first conference, which had a significant impact in this regard, we are looking forward, today, to turning this forum into a real lever for cultural and intellectual influence and for the promotion of a culture of dialogue and coexistence.

I should like to welcome you to Morocco and to wish you a successful conference. I pray that Almighty God grant you success in your endeavors to uphold truth and promote peace so that we may pave the way for the actual implementation of the Fez Process and champion tolerance, respect and interaction between different faiths, peoples and civilizations.

Thank you.