In the framework of the conference organised by the United Religions Initiative-Middle East and North Africa (URI), we spoke with the director of the John Paul II Centre for Interreligious Dialogue and member of the URI, Peter Dziedric, who has dedicated himself to the cultural study of the Islamic world. He tells us how Morocco is taking a leading role in the fight against terrorism through religious education in a peaceful way. He also explains how the kingdom is becoming a symbol of coexistence between Islamic and Hebrew culture at a time when Jerusalem continues to be the scene of major episodes of violence.
He points out that, in the region, 'Morocco has become an important example of coexistence between Muslims and Jews. The policies that Morocco is taking, encouraging coexistence between Jews and Muslims, promise to stay, and that makes the country a pioneer in this type of policy".
Dziedric states that "Morocco has an extraordinary Hebrew culture. There are many important Jewish personalities living in Morocco. He also points out that the Alawite kingdom "has become a contemporary tourist destination for Jews not only from Israel, but also from the United States and Canada", as a result of the support of these coexistence policies.
"Morocco's spiritual culture and its religious culture in terms of Judaism is an opening of relations between Morocco and Israel and the Jewish diaspora. I think Morocco is doing a lot in supporting this interculturality, creating a safe space for people to come and visit. In terms of culture, heritage and cultural activities, Morocco is a very strong leader in working for the enhancement of culture in order to prevent extremism and jihadism", which makes it a very attractive country for tourism.
In this regard, he notes that "Morocco is doing a great job in defining its Sufi culture. It is now a leader in creating a Sufi narrative away from violence. People in Morocco are very interested in Islam as a path through which one can achieve self-realisation and peace. It is focused on making change from this philosophy, for which the creation of an honest dialogue is important. Morocco is doing this by listening to the people and their concerns.
He said that in Morocco, "Moroccan Sufi spaces offer the opportunity to bring young people together. This provides a different space, alternatives to meet and avoids the contribution of extremism. Morocco is a country that has invested in its culture to create peace. Morocco is creating a culture of non-violence".
He further states that "if Morocco today is a developed country in terms of creating these kinds of spaces, it is because there is a strong culture more than in any other Islamic country. For example, in Jordan you have a history of Sufism, but you don't have as many initiatives to preserve these spaces. Morocco is probably the leader in preserving and promoting the Sufi narrative and Islam. It is that narrative of Islam and Sufism that also curbs terrorism and religious extremism".
"The Moroccan state has led a number of very interesting initiatives to combat religious extremism. Morocco is a country defined by Sufism and with a strong Islamic spirituality. Morocco has achieved this through the defence of a historic culture. They have also done this by promoting religious culture and coexistence through the creation of spaces where imams are educated," he says.
"These institutions have become regional centres throughout the Maghreb. If Morocco has become a hub of religious education for the whole region, it is because of their initiatives, they are doing a great job in training communities to fight extremism" he concludes.