By Mary Finnigan
By Mary Finnigan
Fez – Faouzi Skali, the founder and Director General of the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music, has been granted France’s highest award.
In a ceremony in Paris on Thursday 1 May Dr. Skali was made a Chevalier (Knight) de la Legion d’Honneur by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
The award recognises Dr. Skali’s pioneering work as a standard bearer for cultural diversity, religious pluralism and spiritual and humanitarian values. He founded the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music in 1994 – after he was horrified by the implications of the First Gulf War.
“I felt I had to do something to focus on peace and understanding between nations and religions”, he says, “music is a universal language for people all over the world”
The festival celebrates its 20th anniversary this year from 13-21 June.
Faouzi Skali was born in 1953 in the Moroccan holy city of Fes. He is a doctor of anthropology, ethnology and the science of religions. – and a Sufi scholar and practitioner. Sufism is the esoteric and pluralist branch if Islam. It is practiced worldwide by both Muslims and non-Muslims.
Dr. Skali was invited to join the European Commission’s Groupe de Sages (group of wise people) and in May 2011 King Mohammed VI appointed him to the Moroccan government’s Audio Visual Communications Committee.
In 2002 Dr Skali inaugurated the forum Giving Soul to Globalization which happens during the Sacred Music Festival and in 2007 he founded The Sufi Culture Festival, which takes place as an annual event in Fes.
There are five classes in the Legion of Honour – Chevalier is the highest. To qualify at least 20 years of public service is needed, together with “eminent merits”. The eminent merits citation requires “the flawless performance of one’s trade as well as doing more than ordinarily expected, such as being creative and contributing to the growth of others.”