25.05.2017 - UNESCO Office in Doha

Islamic culture as a source of dialogue and peace

© MAP

On May 23 2017, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco jointly visited Al Quaraouiyine University, the oldest continually operating higher education institution in the world, within the framework of the national plan on the prevention of violent extremism through education and culture.

For nearly 20 years, Morocco has embarked on a comprehensive plan to prevent and counter violent extremism, which is based on the development of educational institutions and the training of imams to convey a moderate, open and tolerant Islam for the 21st century. The King thus created the new Mohammed VI Institute and since 2015, has placed Al Quaraouiyine University under his authority so that it may once again resume its place as a reference institution in the field of Islamic religion and civilization. These efforts are aimed at "immunizing the religious field against violent extremism and ostracism." This policy is accompanied by a vast project for the rehabilitation of madrasas, traditional Koranic schools that are an integral part of Morocco’s cultural heritage.

The Director-General and His Majesty visited together three newly renovated madrasas, reopened to students. Their rehabilitation is part of the broader renovation of the Medina of Fez, inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.

"We certainly need ‘hard power’ to respond, but this is not enough. We also have to win the battle of ideas to prevent a threat that draws on false interpretations of faith and history. This battle is an educational and cultural battle, and UNESCO plays a central role here," said the Director-General.

"When young people are learning to hate, we must teach them peace," said Irina Bokova, underscoring that this must start on the benches of schools, including by learning about the history of Islam and its values, architecture, calligraphy and immense contribution to the history of humanity as a source of dialogue and dignity.

Morocco is the first Arab country to work with UNESCO to develop a National Strategy for the prevention of violent extremism through education. UNESCO has strengthened its programs to prevent violent extremism through education for global citizenship, combating racism and hatred, including anti-Semitism and islamophobia.

During her official visit Irina Bokova also met with Mr Ahmed Toufiq, Minister of Habous and Islamic Affairs, and Mr Said Zniber, Wali of the Fes-Meknes Region and Governor of Fez.




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