“Little idyll of Jewish-Muslim coexistence,” thus the London-based magazine, The Economist, described Morocco in an article that highlights the longstanding tradition of religious tolerance in the country.
The article puts in the spotlight the Atlantic city of Essaouira, which once had a vibrant Jewish community living behind whitewashed synagogues.
The echoes of the past history of coexistence between Muslims and Jews in the city of Essaouira were revived by the King’s Advisor, André Azoulay, writes the Economist.
“Each autumn he stages a colourful festival of Andalusian music aimed at bringing hundreds of Jews and Muslims together for a weekend of concerts and dialogue,” the article says.
Quoting Azoulay, the Economist underscored that ““Essaouira is what the Middle East once was and might yet be again.”
The article also sheds light on the history of the centuries-old Jewish existence, noting that Morocco saw an increase in its Jewish population after the reconquista.
By 1948, the Jewish population of Morocco was estimated at over 250,000. Today, around 2,500 Jews are still in Morocco, “more than anywhere else in the Arab world”.
The magazine lauds Morocco for reviving its Jewish heritage through, saying that “No Arab country has gone to the lengths of Morocco to revive its Jewish heritage”. Morocco, notably, restored 110 synagogues and set up a center for Judeo-Islamic studies, which is to open later this year in Essaouira.
“The kingdom also boasts the Arab world’s only Jewish museum,” it said, adding that over 50,000 Israelis visit the kingdom each year.