Archive for the ‘king mohammed vi’ Category

Tribute to The Kingdom of Morocco and to The Moroccan People

October 15, 2009

The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation has resolved to pay tribute to the Kingdom of Morocco and to the Moroccan people

The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation is a global-reach NGO, with offices in New York, Berlin, Jerusalem, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. Among its members are more than a hundred heads of state and Nobel Prize laureates, as well as distinguished personalities from all faiths.

Due to its interfaith nature, the Foundation is strongly supported by both the Catholic and Protestant Churches. In Berlin, it operates from the Vaterunser Evangelical Church. In Buenos Aires, Argentina, following an initiative of the Wallenberg Foundation, the Catholic Cathedral features a mural in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

The Awards Committee of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) has resolved to bestow the “Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Award to the Kingdom of Morocco”.

This distinction will represent a token of appreciation to the Muslims from different countries who helped save the lives of Jews during the Second World War, and particularly to the Moroccan Royal Family and to the Mo roccan people for the blessed role that Morocco has traditionally played in favor of the dialogue and mutual respect between all creeds, religions and nations.

In a letter addressed to the IRWF, His Majesty, King Mohamed VI, expressed his being “deeply rewarded and honoured in this context to receive i n Morocco the special medal you have conceived for this occasion”.

This tradition was highlighted by Sultan Mohamed V (later known as King Mohamed V), who during the Vichy regime,expressed his unconditional support towards his Jewish subjects. According to verbal historical accounts, when a Nazi commander demanded to get a list of the Moroccan Jews, Sultan Mohamed V is believed to have retorted with the following phrase:

“We have no Jews in Morocco! Only Moroccan citizens”.

This is only one example of many which underscore the spirit of civic solidarity of the Moroccan monarchs and their subjects.

This same spirit of civic courage and solidarity was displayed by Muslims from other countries, such as Tunisia, Albania and Turkey, who made a difference and proved to the world that the values of solidarity know no religious boundaries.

The main mission of the Foundation is to research and divulge the feats of the rescuers of victims of the Holocaust, focusing on educational programs which underscore their legacies to the younger generations. This research encompasses stories of rescuers from all faiths, religions and nationalities.

Through this humble recognition, people from all creeds: Christian, Jews, Muslims; believers and agnostics will express their gratitued to one of the most outstanding royal families of the world, leaders of a country – Morocco – which has never stopped to protect its citizens during the Holocaust.

In preparation to this event, the IRWF is calling upon historians and people from all venues to provide our Research Department with historical evidences regarding the Moroccan tradition of mutually respected coexistence and to endorse this hommage by writing to irwf@irwf.org.

The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
http://www.raoulwallenberg.net

Morocco challenges Mideast Holocaust mind-set

August 9, 2009

By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU (AP) – Jul 25, 2009

RABAT, Morocco — From the western edge of the Muslim world, the King of Morocco has dared to tackle one of the most inflammatory issues in the Middle East conflict — the Holocaust.

At a time when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s dismissal of the Holocaust has made the biggest headlines, King Mohammed VI has called the Nazi destruction of the Jews “one of the most tragic chapters of modern history,” and has endorsed a Paris-based program aimed at spreading the word among fellow Muslims.

Many in the Islamic world still ignore or know little about the Nazi attempt to annihilate the Jews during World War II. Some disbelieve it outright. Others argue that it was a European crime and imagine it to be the reason Israel exists and the Palestinians are stateless.

The sentiment was starkly illustrated in March after a Palestinian youth orchestra performed for Israeli Holocaust survivors, only to be shut down by angry leaders of the West Bank refugee camp where they live.

“The Holocaust happened, but we are facing a similar massacre by the Jews themselves,” a community leader named Adnan Hindi said at the time. “We lost our land and we were forced to flee.”

Like other moderate Arab leaders, King Mohammed VI must tread carefully. Islamic fervor is rising in his kingdom, highlighted in 2003 by al-Qaida-inspired attacks in Casablanca on targets that included Jewish sites. Forty-five people died.

The king’s acknowledgment of the Holocaust, in a speech read out in his name at a ceremony in Paris in March, appears to further illustrate the radically different paths that countries like Morocco and Iran are taking.

Morocco has long been a quiet pioneer in Arab-Israeli peace efforts, most notably when it served as a secret meeting place for the Israeli and Egyptian officials who set up President Anwar Sadat’s groundbreaking journey to Jerusalem in 1977.

Though Moroccan officials say the timing is coincidental, the Holocaust speech came at around the same time that Morocco severed diplomatic relations with Iran, claiming it was infiltrating Shiite Muslim troublemakers into this Sunni nation.

The speech was read out at a ceremony launching the “Aladdin Project,” an initiative of the Paris-based Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah (Holocaust) which aims to spread awareness of the genocide among Muslims.

It organizes conferences and has translated key Holocaust writing such as Anne Frank’s diary into Arabic and Farsi. The name refers to Aladdin, the young man with the genie in his lamp, whose legend, originally Muslim, became a universally loved tale.

The Holocaust, the king’s speech said, is “the universal heritage of mankind.”

It was “a very important political act,” said Anne-Marie Revcolevschi, director of the Shoah foundation. “This is the first time an Arab head of state takes such a clear stand on the Shoah,” she said in a telephone interview.

While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict often aggravates Arab sentiment toward Israel, Morocco has a long history of coexistence between Muslims and Jews.

The recent Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip has further inflamed resentment at Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. But Ahmed Hasseni, a Casablanca cab driver, echoes a widely held view that it shouldn’t affect relations with Morocco’s Jews.

“We’re not dumb,” he said. “We don’t confuse the Israeli army with the Jewish people,” he said.

Jews have lived in Morocco for 2,000 years. Their numbers swelled after they were expelled from Spain in 1492, and reached 300,000 before World War II, when yet more fled the German occupation and found refuge in Morocco, then a French colony.

Today they number just 3,000, most having emigrated to France, North America or Israel, but they are free to come back to explore their roots, pray at their ancestors’ graves and even settle here.

Simon Levy heads the Jewish Museum in Casablanca, a treasure trove of old Torah scrolls, garments and jewelry illustrating the rich culture of Moroccan Jewry.

“That I still run the only Jewish museum in the Arab world is telling,” he said.

Andre Azoulay, a top adviser to the current king, is Jewish and one of six members of the king’s council in a monarchy that oversees all major decisions. Considered one of Morocco’s most powerful men, he views his country as “a unique case” for the intensity of its Jewish-Muslim relations. “We don’t mix up Judaism and the tragedy of the Middle East,” he told The Associated Press in an interview.

A founding member of the Aladdin project, Azoulay says part of the program’s goal is to show the West that Muslims aren’t hostile to Jews, and that Morocco was among countries that resisted Nazi plans to exterminate their Jewish populations. He points to king Mohammed V, the current ruler’s grandfather, who is credited with resisting French colonial anti-Semitic policies.

Such actions were rare, but not unique in North Africa during World War II. In Tunisia, the late Khaled Abdelwahhab hid Jews from the Nazis on his farm, and was the first Arab to be nominated as “Righteous Among the Nations,” a title bestowed by Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, on those who risked their lives to save Jews in the Holocaust. His case is still under study.

The Aladdin project is only just beginning. Its work has yet to reach schools or bookstores in Morocco, although the Shoah foundation’s Revcolevschi said Anne Frank’s diary is among Holocaust memoirs available in Arabic and Farsi on the Internet, and is being sold under the counter in Iran.

“People speak of a clash of civilizations, but it’s more a clash of ignorance,” she said. “We’re countering this.”

Hakim El Ghissassi, an aide to the senior Islamic Affairs official who delivered Mohammed’s speech, said the king is uniquely positioned to promote Islam’s dialogue with Judaism, because his titles include “Commander of the believers” — meaning he is the paramount authority for Moroccan Muslims.

“What the king has said on the Holocaust reflects our broader efforts,” said El Ghissassi, listing such reforms as courses to reinforce Morocco’s tradition of tolerant Islam by familiarizing local imams with Jewish and Christian holy books.

“We want to make sure everybody can differentiate between unfair Israeli policies and respect for Judaism,” he said.

King hopes that 2008 will be a year of peace, tolerance in the world

January 1, 2008
kingmohammed_500_500.jpg
Rabat, Jan. 1 – King Mohammed VI of Morocco expressed hope that 2008 will be a year of peace, security, solidarity, and humanism in the world.
In congratulation messages addressed to world leaders on the occasion, the king said 2007 was quite an eventful year with major conflicts of all kinds, hoping that “our common human aspirations will materialize in the new year.”    “We look forward to embracing a world where values of love, concord, tolerance, harmonious co-existence, and fertile synergies among different cultures, religions, and civilizations prevail,” the monarch added.

    The sovereign also received congratulations messages from World leaders on the same occasion, in which they expressed best wishes of good health, progress, as well as prosperity of the people of Morocco.

Full text of King Mohammed VI to the 2nd EU-Africa Summit hosted by Lisbon

December 11, 2007

Lisbon, Dec. 8 – Following is the full text of the speech of King Mohammed VI to the 2nd EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon, read out on his behalf by Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi.

Praise be to God                Peace and blessings be upon the Prophet, His Kith and Kin
Mr. President,
Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me pleasure to address this message to the Second Summit of African and EU Heads of State and Government, which is an important step in the process of consolidating dialogue and solidarity between our two continents.

I should like to extend my sincere thanks to the government and people of Portugal for their efforts to ensure the success of our Summit.

Our Cairo Summit, in the year 2000, set the stage for an innovative, ambitious partnership between our two continents. It reflected our firm belief in our common destiny and in the inter-dependence of African and European interests and concerns.

We set ourselves the target of making the Africa-EU partnership the linchpin of our solidarity in facing the challenges of globalization. We wanted our partnership to contribute to the integration of international exchange relations and to help us foster closer cultural ties. We also wanted to protect the African-European partnership against all trends which are incompatible with the principles of mutual understanding, in order to avoid distrust or exclusion, and to promote, instead, the aspirations and ambitions we had agreed upon.

Seven years later, the Lisbon Summit is offering us the opportunity to take stock of our achievements, pave the way for a strategic, promising and fruitful partnership, and adopt a practical plan of action to enhance our consultations and streamline our policies.

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Africa is currently facing new regional and international challenges relating to the threat of terrorism, the disruptions caused by globalization and the complexities of migration. However, most African countries are doing all they can, using endogenous means to implement reforms and rise to the challenges confronting them.

This dynamic reform process, as well as the economic performances achieved, are a strong signal from Africa to its partners to let them know that Africa is on the move, that it is determined to embrace change, and that it seeks to play its full-fledged role in the new world balance.

In addition to exerting these efforts, Africa has to face challenges relating to poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, pandemics and the environment. It also suffers from the consequences of several armed conflicts and hotbeds of tension in Africa which severely undermine its capabilities and divert its resources away from development targets.

It is therefore our duty to support African countries in the area of conflict prevention, management and resolution, and to assist them in reconstruction efforts.

Two challenges are particularly serious: the temptation to balkanize national entities, and the provision of support to separatist movements and fictitious entities which are irrelevant in today’s world of strong blocs and coalitions.

The instability resulting from such a situation represents a breeding ground for trafficking in arms, drugs and human beings, and for the establishment of terrorist networks which threaten stability in the entire region.

To face this situation, all partners should first address the threat looming over the sovereignty, national unity and territorial integrity of African countries. They are also called upon to tackle the pressing challenges confronting Africa.
Preserving national unity and promoting regional integration in secure, stable environments are essential to enhance solidarity, reduce tensions and overcome disputes. The latter are often anachronistic because they date back to times long gone by; they can be resolved only through dialogue and consultations carried out in an open, realistic spirit.

Achieving such lofty goals requires commitment to good neighborliness, mutual respect, and avoiding all acts that are likely to offend national sentiment.

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

True to the spirit of the longstanding ties it enjoys with its African environment, and in keeping with its commitment to South-South cooperation, the Kingdom of Morocco has sought to develop mutually profitable relations with African countries, based on trust and solidarity.

In the last few years, I have been to several sister African nations to hold talks with their leaders, to consider prospects for exchange and complementarity with African countries, and to serve our common interests, particularly with respect to sustainable development. In this regard, Morocco has sought to foster the principles of participation, solidarity and proximity, drawing inspiration from the National Initiative for Human Development, which I launched in the spring of 2005.

The positive results obtained in this regard, and the projects carried out in cooperation with several African countries, are a source of deep satisfaction. It is our firm intention to pursue this form of participatory action which promotes the sharing of experiences and know-how with sister African nations, as well as the implementation of projects designed to improve human development indicators and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Morocco is determined to strengthen exchange relations as part of an effective, solidarity-based triangular cooperation, from which all African countries can benefit, and in which the European Union would play a key role.
Thanks to its geographic location, its history and its cultural traditions, the Kingdom of Morocco has always fostered dialogue and interaction. Today, it is giving concrete substance to African solidarity and is seeking to promote cooperation between Europe and Africa.

I should like, in this respect, to commend the promising initiative of the President of the French Republic, my dear friend His Excellency Nicolas Sarkozy, which calls for an innovative Euro-African partnership, of which the Mediterranean would be the axis and the main pillar. Thanks to this initiative, our partnership is likely to gain strategic momentum.

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Environmental problems are among the main challenges confronting Africa. Growing forest depletion, creeping desertification, soil degradation, drought, poor access to water and climate change compound poverty and threaten population stability. This Summit should therefore enable us to give new momentum to our partnership, commensurate with the challenges of sustainable development and climate change. Just as important is the need to enhance African capabilities to control these phenomena and restrict their harmful effects.

Dedicated action is needed because of the interdependent nature of environmental problems and development requirements. Such an approach can contribute to greater population stability and better control of migrant movements.

Having increased significantly with globalization, migration has special meaning in the Euro-African environment, where it is basically a reflection of economic and demographic disparities between the two continents.

Concerted policies for the management and control of migration issues, using a comprehensive, integrated approach, would enable us address migration-related concerns and tensions, and at the same time make the most of migrants’ contributions to development on both sides of the Mediterranean.

The Euro-African Conference on Migration and Development, held in Morocco in July 2006, made it possible for consultations between our two continents on this highly sensitive issue to gain a firm footing. It also showed that the proper response to current migration issues cannot be individual, or even bilateral, much less exclusively security-driven. The response has to be collective, trans-regional, multi-dimensional, future-oriented and, above all, inspired by humane considerations.

We do hope the next Euro-African conference, to be hosted by France in the second semester of 2008, will lead to a greater implementation of the Rabat Action Plan, and that it will address the broad range of issues inherent in migration.

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The challenges we face and the great potential of the Africa-Europe relationship offer a historic opportunity to lay down an innovative framework for partnership between a united Europe and an emerging Africa; a solid, equitable partnership based on mutual respect and shared interests.

Africa and the European Union should see to it globalization becomes a tool for development, not a cause of marginalization. Sustainable development, trade and regional integration should be key areas in Euro-African cooperation mechanisms.

It will be helpful, in this respect, to take into account the regional dimension in Africa, and to attach special importance to the rich, diversified experience the EU has had with each African region, through such mechanisms as the Cotonou Agreement, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and the European Neighborhood Policy.

Beyond a comprehensive, strategic approach to Africa as a whole, we should seek, through the operational instruments of our partnership, to give special importance to the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), which are the central element of – and prerequisite for – regional integration.

We hope the Economic Partnership Agreements the European Union is currently negotiating with each African region will make it possible to fulfill the aspirations of African nations.
 
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the years to come, our partnership should be based on a new, dynamic approach to political dialogue and consultations between our two continents, for the purpose of promoting peace and security, fostering good governance standards, and strengthening cooperation in economic, social, technical, human and cultural sectors.

Our combined efforts to achieve the above objectives require regular follow-up – both technical and political – so that the Joint Strategy and the Action Plan to be adopted by our conference may achieve their full potential.

Your Excellencies,
The way forward is now clearly charted, and we do hope that, by the time we convene our next Summit, our special partnership would have enabled us to make significant progress.

Thank you.

Wassalamu alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh.     
             Mohammed VI
             King of Morocco
The Royal Residence, Guelmim
30 November 2007