By Hassan Benmehdi
By Hassan Benmehdi
Casablanca, June 12, 2012
In a move to counter the danger of extremist ideology, a recent seminar focused on values of respect and acceptance.
Fanatic and extremist movements in Morocco have created social and political tension, prompting calls for tolerance.
“Diversity, tolerance, commitment, and identity are all ingredients of living together,” former Social Development Minister Nouzha Skalli said on May 31st at a seminar in Casablanca.
Skalli, an MP with the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS), told a young audience that the values of tolerance, diversity and exchange must extend beyond conferences, statements and legislation. She stressed that community life is about embracing diversity in all its forms – religious, cultural, linguistic and ethnic.
“For such values, it’s important to lay down rules so that they can be put into practice,” she said.
Weighing in on her speech, young radio personality Marouane said that Moroccan politicians and civil society campaigners have a bigger duty to implement the value of tolerance than ever before.
Seminar attendee Asmaâ, 20, agreed that the misapplication of these values could be used for political purposes.
“Politicians say that they believe in them, but don’t apply them,” she said. “Ideologies set us apart – they invite us to reject others and judge them negatively.”
Kamil, another youth, said that he would like for values of tolerance to become an everyday reality.
“I get angry when I see no Jewish MPs or Jewish representatives of any kind in the Moroccan Parliament, although the Jewish community is an integral part of Moroccan society,” he explained. “Where is the tolerance and recognition of others?”
Imane, a young law student from Casablanca, said that she was disappointed that politicians did not make an effort to persuade those who spread extremist ideas to reconsider their views.
“I think this aspect tends to be ignored in discussions in Morocco nowadays, although it is of crucial importance for future generations,” she said.
Dialogue and credible scientific arguments can persuade many Islamist theologians to change their ideological views, said Imane’s friend Aziza. “It is still to be determined whether or not our politicians and community leaders have the guts to do it,” she added.
Justice and Development Party (PJD) communications chief Aicha Abbassi also weighed in on the issue.
“We must learn to respect and accept others as they are, even if we don’t agree with them,” the ruling Islamist party official said.
Women’s Tribune president Fathia Bennis said that she was convinced that regardless of people’s religion, colour, culture, background or sex, “only tolerance can unite us and enable us to accept other people and live together”.
Most of the attendees agreed that the danger posed by radicalism should be sufficient motivation to drive those who promote values of tolerance, respect for others, exchange and sharing in Morocco.
Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) spokesperson Salah El Ouadiâ said that the real battle facing the country today was one of values.
In a healthy society, he said, “no one has the right to have a monopoly over religion and what is sacred.”