The latest defense, or proof, of Morocco’s newfound reputation as an oasis of religious cohabitation is Pope Francis’s interfaith-themed visit to the country in late March.
Rabat – The UN has adopted a Morocco-drafted resolution on counter-terrorism and interfaith dialogue.
The resolution, which was adopted yesterday, July 25, is a resounding statement about Morocco’s growing reputation as a fortress against religious fundamentalism, extremist discourse, and terrorism, Morocco’s state-owned outlet MAP reported earlier today.
“The general consensus over this resolution and its backing by 90 countries from different regions of the world and with different cultural and religious sensibilities is a testimony to Morocco’s credibility on the world scene as a promoter of [religious] dialogue and tolerance,” the Moroccan paper wrote.
The text of the resolution is a firm condemnation of all fundamentalist interpretations of religion. According to the resolution, extremism inevitably breeds social exclusion, political abuse of minority rights, and violence against those who hold different views.
Omar Hilale, Morocco’s permanent representative at the UN said that political or religious extremism erodes the notions of tolerance, individual freedoms, peace, and cultural cohabitation.
Extremism, he elaborated, thrives on the exclusion and the criminalization of difference by investing in hate discourses. “Its goal is to incite exclusion, provokes division in society, stirs conflicts, and fuels terrorism and anarchy,” Hilale said of extremism.
The Moroccan representative noted that Morocco has, in recent years, put massive efforts in countering radical discourses, preventing terrorist plots, and “building bridges.”
Morocco’s “credibility” as a bastion of counter-terrorism, interfaith dialogue, and religious cohabitation, of which Hilale effusively spoke, is the fruit of a host of reforms in the country’s security apparatus and official religious discourse.
Most notably, Morocco is increasingly becoming an exporter of “tolerant Islam.” The country’s Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams, has become a continental Mecca, with many African—and increasingly European—countries sending students to be schooled in the tradition of what observers have called the “next generation of Imam.”
But perhaps the latest defense, or proof, of Morocco’s newfound reputation as an oasis of religious cohabitation is Pope Francis’s interfaith-themed visit to the country in late March.
A telling episode of that visit came when the Pope and King Mohammed VI visited the Mohammed VI Institute for Training Imams and an orchestra graced the audience with an interfaith-themed performance of a vocal arrangement fusing the Muslim call to prayer, a Jewish prayer, and the Catholic “Ave Maria.”
The episode elicited scathing criticism in conservative circles. As far as Moroccan authorities—and in particular King Mohammed VI—were concerned, however, both the papal visit and the unapologetically interfaith-inspired performances that greeted it spoke of Morocco as a country that takes pride in its cultural and religious diversity.