On Pope’s Visit to Morocco

By : Dr. AbdelHak Azzouzi

President and Founder of Moroccan Strategic and International Studies

Morocco has recently witnessed an extraordinary visit to His Holiness Pope Francis I following the first visit to Morocco by Pope John Paul II in 1985. His Majesty King Mohammed VI, was keen to express the transcendental civilizational value of this visit, in a speech that he told in four languages.

The historical site, which hosted the meeting, combines the meanings of openness, and cultural bridging, and is itself a symbol of balance and harmony. The place was deliberately chosen, that is the meeting point between Bouregreg River and the Atlantic Ocean and on one axis, extending from the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech and the Geralda of Seville. The place is indicating the spiritual, architectural and cultural link between Africa and Europe.

His Majesty wished that the Pope’s visit to Morocco coincides with the month of Rajab, which witnessed one of the most symbolic episodes of the history of Islam and Christianity, when the Muslims left Mecca, upon orders from the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and resorted to Najashi, the Christian king of Abyssinia. This was the first reception and the first mutual acquaintance between the Islamic and Christian religions.

This is an exceptional day for two reasons, it is the first visit of His Holiness Pope Francis, and it is also exceptional because it reminds us the historical visit the late Pope John Paul II paid to Morocco  in 1985.

HM the King said : “I was keen to make sure the place and the date of the visit reflect the symbolic depth, the historical significance and the civilizational importance of this Meeting.” Yes ! The place where they are meeting is an embodiment of openness, passage and cross-cultural fertilization; it is, in itself, a symbol of balance and harmony.

In his speech delivered at the Esplanade of the Hassan Mosque, HM underlined the importance of education to tackle radicalism, whose main source is unknowing of eachother. He said: “To tackle radicalism, the solution is neither military nor financial; but the solution is only about Education.”

The monarch noted that given the reality of today’s world, “it is clear the dialogue between the Abrahamic religions is insufficient.” Its is not the religion that gathers the terrorists, but indeed it’s the religiopus ignorance.

“My plea for education is an indictment of ignorance. It is binary conceptions and the fact of not knowing one another well enough that are threatening our civilizations; it is certainly not religion,” HM the King said.

“The visit of his holiness Pope Francis is taking place at a time when the community of nations – just like that of all Believers – is facing a number of challenges,” HM the King said, adding that “we need to tackle these new ills which feed on treachery as much as on the instrumentalization of the Divine Message by advocating the denial of the other and similar wicked theories.”

The speech of Pope Francis went in the direction and a shared conviction about the need to build a single human family and a common community was underscored. That is the values which the monotheistic religions are based upon, contribute to rationalizing and improving the world order and achieving reconciliation and rapprochement among its components.

No doubt that The three religions are the religion of mercy for the people. They include human principles capable of pleasing people, achieving hopes and solving problems, and we are all called upon today to enforce these principles by communicating with each other to establish a world of justice, peace and compassion. In addition to that we should work to deepen cultural relationship between nations and peoples on the basis of mutual respect, cooperation, reconstruction, and the achievement of human security and dignity.

The religious and cultural diversity in human societies calls for a fair partnership and positive communication within a social contract agreed upon by all. Diversity in opinions and views should contribute to enrich civil and cultural life, and to achieve comprehensive development. A meaningful dialogue between all is necessary to understand the real message of religion, which extremism tried to hijack and falsify, and replace with calls of hatred, exclusion and arrogance. The real message of the religion is to free the world from violence and counter-extremism and forging sincere alliances that promote the correct understanding of the other.

Years ago, an international conference on the Alliance of Civilizations and Cultural Diversity was organized in the city of Fez. It was concluded with the publication of nine volumes on the topic and many international public policies derived from it. I still believe with conviction that it is inconceivable from the Islamic point of view that Islam is in clash with the Christian religion, for example, or that the Islamic culture may clash with American, French or other culture.

On the contrary, they can coexist on the basis of mutual acquaintance and recognition of different interests, multiple interests, and moral and conceptual separation.all nations and communities should work to deepen this understanding to uproot the fallacies and ignorance and advocate for justice which is to eliminate the terrorism, rumors and arrogance.

It is the coexistence of civilization, which we all seek is our understanding of the great will of Allah, the Creator in diversity, and the need for coexistence and cooperation in the light of this understanding.

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