An international conference on “The rights of religious minorities in Islamic Lands: The Legal Framework and Call for Action” kicked off Monday in the Morocco city of Marrakec.
An international conference on “The rights of religious minorities in Islamic Lands: The Legal Framework and Call for Action” kicked off Monday in the Morocco city of Marrakech to discuss the rights of religious minorities living in Muslim-majority countries.
The two-day conference is chaired by Morocco’s Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs in cooperation with the Forum for the Promotion of Peace in Muslim Societies – a UAE-based think tank. It has brought together under one roof around 300 Muslim scholars, government officials, experts and religious leaders who advocate for the protection of non-Muslim minorities.
King Mohammed VI of Morocco said in a message addressed to the participants in the conference, read by Minister of Endowments and Islamic Affairs Ahmed Toufiq, the first reference source underpinning the principle of respect for religious minorities to which we are committed, is the Holy Qur’an. In it, the Almighty says He has honored Man as a human being.
“Therefore, and as confirmation of this honor bestowed on Man, it was the Almighty’s will to create people who were as different in their religious beliefs as they were in the color of their skin, the language they spoke and the ethnic group they belonged to. For this reason, Muslims are naturally inclined to accept diversity,” he explained.
King Mohammed VI went on to say that there are many references in the Qur’an to the People of the Book, where Allah the Almighty instructed Muslims to believe in all Prophets and Messengers and to honor and respect them. He also said that the People of the Book were not to be provoked, and that Muslims were to argue with them only in ways that are best and most gracious. The Almighty also ordered that the People of the Book were to be treated fairly, in all circumstances, and that hatred, which can influence the way one behaves towards them, was to be renounced.
“In this regard, he said, Islam prescribed jihad only for self-defense, or to protect sanctities, when necessary. In no way is jihad authorized to compel people to embrace Islam.”
“We, in the Kingdom of Morocco, see no reason for denying religious minorities any of their rights. We do not tolerate a violation of this kind being perpetrated in the name of Islam, nor do we tolerate any Muslim being involved in such an infringement,” King Mohammed VI said.
The conference is set to discuss the legal framework for the issue of religious minorities in light of the historical contexts as well as the local and international dimensions of human rights in today’s world.
Iranian Shia cleric and scholar Ayatollah Sayyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad participated at the conference.