I wish your conference every success
Morocco has played a leading role in interfaith dialogue. Indeed, shortly after the country’s independence in 1956, Morocco organized meetings, in the summer, in the Benedictine Monastery of Toumliline, situated in the mountains in the Fes region. They were attended by renowned Christian and Muslim intellectuals, cultural figures and scholars like Louis Massignon. These are some of the facets of my country’s legacy in this respect which I am sure, most of you already know. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that you should feel a need to meet here, in this land which has long been committed to the time-honored traditions of tolerance and openness. In order to adopt, by the grace of the Almighty, a strong declaration on the theme of your conference as well as on other equally important issues for the future.
Our management of the religious domain in Morocco focuses on preventing any distorted interpretation of the revealed texts, particularly what relates to jihad- a question on which our Ulema issued an unequivocal statement a few weeks ago.
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The more I ponder the various crises threatening humanity, the more firmly I believe that interfaith cooperation is necessary, inevitable and urgent. This cooperation between believers for the development of a common fundamental platform is not to be restricted to tolerance and respect only; it should also involve a commitment to the rights and freedoms that should be enshrined in – and enforced by – each country’s legislation. It is not enough to lay down laws and codes of conduct. We need to adopt a civilized code of behavior that bans all forms of coercion, fanaticism and arrogance.
The world we live in today needs religious values because they embody the virtues we should uphold before the Creator. We need common values not just to nurture tolerance, but also to derive from them the energy and fortitude that will enable Man to take a long hard look at himself; we need them because they can help us to rally together in order to enjoy a life free from war, greed, extremism and hatred – a life in which crises and human suffering can be reduced as a prelude to the elimination of the risk of religious conflict.
I believe what people are expecting you to say, through your final declaration, is that religion must not be manipulated to justify any infringement or denial of the rights of religious minorities in Islamic countries.
The second reference source on which our principles are based is the Sunna of my revered ancestor, Prophet Muhammad – e to explain the Quran. Through them, He recommended that Jews and Christians were to be treated well, and that no monk, rabbi or person found praying in a place of worship could be killed in a time of war. He made transactions with the Jews, laid the foundations for treaties and for the protection of churches, decreed that people believing in other faiths were not to be harassed and authorized marriage with women who were from the People of the Book. The many facets of Islam’s peaceful coexistence with believers in other religions have had beneficial effects in all spheres, including business, trade, industry and the exchange of ideas. Therefore, as far as Islam is concerned, peace and security are the norm for interaction between faiths.
I am following the same approach in terms of enabling Christians of all denominations, who reside legally in Morocco, to perform their religious rites, according to the church to which they belong. Moroccan Jews enjoy the same constitutional rights as their fellow Muslim citizens. They are represented in my circle of advisors as well as in the diplomatic field. Moroccan Jews, even second generation children of Jews who chose to migrate elsewhere in the world, have close bonds with the rest of society.