Marrakesh Declaration calls for protection of rights of minorities in Muslim countries

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Marrakesh Declaration calls for protection of rights of minorities in Muslim countries

catholicculture.org and abouna.org

At the invitation of Morocco’s government, hundreds of Sunni and Shiite scholars from 120 countries gathered in Marrakesh to consider the plight of non-Muslim minorities in largely Muslim nations.

“We in the Kingdom of Morocco will not tolerate the violation of the rights of religious minorities in the name of Islam,” King Mohammed VI stated as the January 25-27 conference began. “I am enabling Christians and Jews to practise their faith and not just as minorities. They even serve in the government.”

Participants in the conference issued the Marrakesh Declaration, which called for “full protection for the rights and liberties to all religious groups in a civilized manner that eschews coercion, bias, and arrogance.”

“Conditions in various parts of the Muslim world have deteriorated dangerously due to the use of violence and armed struggle as a tool for settling conflicts and imposing one's point of view,” the declaration added. “This situation has also weakened the authority of legitimate governments and enabled criminal groups to issue edicts attributed to Islam, but which, in fact, alarmingly distort its fundamental principles and goals in ways that have seriously harmed the population as a whole.”

The declaration also called upon “Muslim educational institutions and authorities to conduct a courageous review of educational curricula that addresses honestly and effectively any material that instigates aggression and extremism, leads to war and chaos, and results in the destruction of our shared societies.”

“It is unconscionable to employ religion for the purpose of aggressing upon the rights of religious minorities in Muslim countries,” the declaration concluded.

The scholars recognized a worldwide crisis: The so-called Islamic State is killing Christians, Yazidis and others and imposing its harsh orthodoxy on millions in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa. Tensions between Sunni and Shiite leaders throughout the region are escalating, too.

Participants called for more tolerance for minorities and unveiled the Marrakesh Declaration, an updated bill of rights for religious minorities, inspired by the Charter of Medina.

“Enough bloodshed,” said Abdallah bin Bayyah, a Mauritanian religious scholar and professor of Islamic studies based in Saudi Arabia. “There is a sickness right now in the world but we have treatments for it within Islam.”

Some participants pointed to Morocco as a successful example of tolerance and hoped it could serve as a model for other Muslim countries: Moroccan law specifically protects its Jewish population of around 6,000 people, according to 2010 estimates.

Conference participants included Iranian muftis, Pakistani judges and other Muslim authorities. Non-Muslims also took part in the conference.

In a speech prepared for the conference, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako decried anti-Christian persecution and discrimination in Iraq, according to a Fides report. He also lamented the effects of the 2003 US military intervention in Iraq, stating that “external players who acted according to their own ambitions in the region … have used democracy and freedom as a cover to rob our natural resources, peace and freedom, and they have created chaos and terrorism in Iraq and the Middle East.”

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington, was present in Marrakesh and welcomed the declaration.

“It is truly a great document, one that will influence our times and our history,” the prelate said, according to a Catholic News Service report. “It is a document that our world has been waiting for and a tribute to the Muslim scholars who prepared it,” he added. “As one of the People of the Book, I thank you for this document and I thank the Lord God who has provided his followers the courage to prepare this document.”

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 22:31
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