Dozens of international figures met in Morocco this week to discuss communication across religions and ways to deepen cultural understanding.
The three-day international conference on cultural and religious dialogue wrapped up Wednesday (October 2nd) in Fez.
The fact that a dialogue between cultures and civilisations was being held in Morocco was symbolic in itself, International Organisation of Francophonie (OIF) chief Abdou Diouf said.
Dialogue between cultures and religions is essential in the current climate, but an exchange of ideas is not possible without a desire for mutual recognition, he said.
"This means putting an end to prejudice, stereotypes and the poisonous distortions which portray all Muslims as fundamentalists or terrorists and all Westerners as colonisers or infidels," he said.
André Azoulay, a royal advisor and president of the Anna Lindh Foundation, agreed, noting that in Morocco, people believe that diversity is an asset and that there are no double standards in this regard.
"It's the expression of a national consensus which I regard as exemplary", he said.
Morocco takes a special interest in being open and adopting the values of tolerance and interfaith dialogue, said political analyst Jamal Cherradi.
"Over the past few years, several international meetings intended to promote tolerance and intercultural dialogue have been held in Morocco. Officials are interested in the religious sphere, which was reformed a few years ago in order to live up to expectations and promote a culture of moderation," he said.
In a message read out on his behalf, King Mohammed VI stressed that the constitution proclaims the Moroccan people's commitment to the values of openness, moderation, tolerance and dialogue for mutual understanding between the cultures and civilisations of the world.
The monarch pointed out that the calls for fanaticism and ostracism made by some Muslim preachers were erroneously linking Islam, a religion of moderation par excellence, with the acts of violence and destruction that extremist or terrorist groups engage in.
He said it was necessary to educate "our young people about openness, listening to each other in a tolerant fashion and otherness and diversity".
"This is an effective antidote to the 'shock of ignorance' and an essential prerequisite for security and peace in the world," he added.
According to Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, the head of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), the conference came at a time marked by an "acute" human crisis stemming from the "rise of racism and hatred".
He decried a "lack of respect for the cultural and spiritual characteristics that represent the cornerstone of creative cultural diversity and personal enrichment".
Dialogue, he said, could bring "spiritual peace and cultural stability between all peoples of the world".
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