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KAICIID Secretary General Welcomes Declaration on Protection of Religious Minorities from Marrakesh Conference

27 January 2016

Declaration calls for individual and social responsibility to protect religious minorities in Muslim societies

The Secretary General of KAICIID, Faisal Bin Muaammar today welcomed the adoption of the “Marrakesh Declaration” on the rights of religious minorities in predominantly Muslim majority communities by religious leaders and scholars from across the Muslim world, intergovernmental organizations, and policymakers.

In a speech to the participants at the conference on the same topic which concluded yesterday, the Secretary General lauded the efforts of the organizers, the Government of Morocco, the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, and of Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, who provided intellectual and practical leadership to the event, and with whom KAICIID has partnered on a number of initiatives in the Middle East and the Central African Republic.

Bin Muaammar said: “The Marrakesh Declaration aims to reinforce the responsibility of Muslim majority communities towards religious communities living in their midst, and reaffirms and confirms practices that go back to the time of the Prophet Mohammed himself. This declaration is crucial for relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, but also sends an important message to the world about the centrality of concepts like peace and diversity to all world religions.

The conference, and the declaration, are historic, due to the wide representation of religious leadership at the conference, including leading Muftis, and the attendance of delegations from different faith groups. It is a call to action for people to take individual and collective responsibility to reject discrimination and stereotyping. The vision of these high religious leaders who publicly stand for harmonious relations between people of various religious traditions in in itself a powerful signal to the rest of the world, and to those who misinterpret religion for violence. Violence has no place, no connection to religion. These values, of coexistence, peace, respect for the other, and for unity within difference, are at the heart of every religion.”

The conference will be followed by another meeting to examine the status and rights of Muslim communities living in non-Muslim societies, in which the Muslim communities who live in non-Muslim countries status’ will be examined in Abu Dhabi this year.

The conference participants reinforced the importance of interreligious dialogue in preserving the rights of religious minorities. The protection and preservation of religious minorities, and promoting common citizenship through interreligious dialogue is a central part of KAICIID’s work with religious leaders from the Middle East. In September, KAICIID convened a meeting of religious leaders from across the Middle East to discuss this very problem and to find concrete solutions. KAICIID is also the facilitator of the first-ever network of Arab theological institutes, dedicated to integrating common citizenship into religious and theological education.

The declaration proposes the “Charter of Medina” as one possible authentic model of citizenship for Muslims. A historic document that is contemporary to the life of the prophet, the Charter is one of the world’s first written constitutions. Moreover, it is a contract of coexistence and freedom of religion in a multi-religious state, and rooted in the Islamic experience. It respects individual choice, and guarantees minorities the freedom to practice their own religions. It emphasises solidarity and common citizenship. The Marrakesh declaration calls for education reform to integrate these ideals into modern-day curricula, and calls for policy makers to integrate common citizenship and coexistence into the legal framework.