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Parliamentary Conference on Interfaith Dialogue Kicks off in Marrakech

The Parliamentary Conference on Interfaith Dialogue, organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Moroccan Parliament, kicked off on Tuesday in Marrakech, under the High Patronage of HM King Mohammed VI.

The opening session of the conference was marked by a message from HM the King to the participants, read out by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rachid Talbi El Alami.

In this message, the Sovereign affirmed Interfaith dialogue, meaningful coexistence, understanding and cooperation for the accomplishment of humanitarian goals would be key levers to build on in order to spare humanity the evils of strife, affliction and suffering.

His Majesty the King stressed: “: “However, that cannot be achieved – and this, by the way, is one of the matters at stake in this conference – unless we put words into action, show a keenness to revisit the concept of interfaith dialogue and achieve a quantum leap in collective awareness of the importance of dialogue and coexistence, and of the perils represented by persistent reclusiveness, fanaticism and introversion.”

In an address on the occasion, IPU President Duarte Pacheco welcomed HM the King’s message, noting that Morocco has “a long history of coexistence between different religions and beliefs”, and that this conference is one in a long line of distinguished interfaith events that have taken place in the Kingdom.

“Religion and belief are important to many people: they influence our identity, our values and our decision-making; they affect the way people participate in society,” he said, noting that “because they are important to our constituents, they must be important to us as parliamentarians.”

“While it’s true that parliamentarians and religious faiths have different mandates, they share the common goal of serving their communities and promoting their well-being,” Pacheco noted.

In a similar address, IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong recalled that the city of Marrakech occupies a special place due to its history of tolerance and coexistence between religions, citing, in this respect, the 2016 Marrakech Declaration on the Rights of Religious Minorities in Muslim Countries. This conference, like the IPU, aims to promote solutions and best practices for more tolerant and democratic societies, he noted.

“In a world where the absolute majority of the population identifies itself as religious, it is necessary to work together for the sustainable establishment of inclusive and peaceful societies”, he said.

For her part, the President of the International Women’s Coordinating Committee, Agatha Chikelue, welcomed the choice of the theme “Working together for our common future” for this conference, which represents an important lever for initiating greater collaboration between parliamentarians and religious leaders around the world to promote dialogue and exchange, and highlight the universal truth that “despite our differences, our commonalities unite us”.

Recalling that the world is going through a crucial moment in its history due to the resurgence of armed conflicts and tensions, she pointed out that Africa, more than other continents, “bears the heaviest burden in terms of the conflicts and insecurity prevalent in our community, which give rise to very slow development”.

The opening session of the conference, attended by the Advisor to His Majesty the King, André Azoulay, and numerous national and international personalities, was marked by the screening of a corporate film highlighting the values of tolerance and religious coexistence in the Kingdom.

The video focused on the role played by HM the King, Commander of the Faithful, in bringing religions closer together, and spreading the values of moderation and the rejection of extremism, while tracing the historic visit of His Holiness Pope Francis, Pope of the Vatican, to Morocco in March 2019, as well as the ongoing efforts made by the Sovereign, following the example of the late HM Mohammed V and the late HM Hassan II, in the religious field in the service of peace, cooperation and human brotherhood.

Organized in partnership with “Religions for Peace” and with the support of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the Mohammedia Rabita of the Ulema, this conference will bring together MPs, religious leaders and representatives of civil society, who will engage in constructive dialogue and exchange best practices for resolving the main problems hampering sustainable coexistence.

This international conference, initiated under the theme “Interfaith dialogue: working together for our common future”, reflects the important and multiple roles played by the national legislative institution, which draws its inspiration from the Kingdom’s thousand-year-old history, rich in landmark episodes and strong examples of religious tolerance and coexistence.

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