IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MARRAKESH, 27 January 2016 — At the invitation of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, 250 of the world’s eminent Islamic leaders convened to discuss the rights of religious minorities and the obligation to protect them in Muslim majority states.
This position has historic roots dating to the time of Prophet Mohammed and the Medina Charter. Today’s Declaration was issued at a time of heightened social hostility fueled by violent extremism, widespread Islamophobia and the denial of rights, sometimes justified by misrepresentations of Islamic teachings.
The conference was organized by the Moroccan Ministry of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs and the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies based in Abu Dhabi. His Eminence Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, the President of the Forum for Promoting Peace and Co-Moderator of Religions for Peace (RfP), offered the keynote address that set the framework for deliberation among the Islamic leaders. Fifty senior leaders from the world’s diverse religious traditions other than Islam were invited as observers of the Islamic deliberations.
A summary of the Marrakesh Declaration includes:
— “The objectives of the Charter of Medina provide a suitable framework for national constitutions in countries with Muslim majorities, and are in harmony with the United Nations Charter and related documents, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
— “Affirm[s] that it is impermissible to employ religion for the purpose of detracting from the rights of religious minorities in Muslim countries.”
— “Call[s] upon representatives of the various religions, sects and denominations to confront all forms of religious bigotry, vilification and denigration of what people hold sacred, as well as all words that promote hatred and racism.”
The fifty religious leaders other than Muslims:
— Affirmed values shared with the Islamic leaders;
— Asked forgiveness for past and current injuries for which their communities are complicit;
— Shared particular concerns over violence in the name of religion, limitations of citizenship, restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, and xenophobia, especially Islamophobia;
— Committed to follow-up work in solidarity with Muslim brothers and sisters to build a culture of peace; and,
— Respectfully expressed the hope that this convening of Islamic leaders will be continued by future regional conferences.
Every attack, every hate crime, every insult, every humiliation is amplified in the media and sends out a polarizing wave, fueling the rise in hostility. Only religious communities cooperating —standing shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity — can transform this vicious cycle into a virtuous one, in which the good deeds of each community call out to and reinforce the good deeds of the others.RfP is committed to supporting all religious communities in collaborative efforts to build a virtuous cycle for Peace.
Brian Grim Meets Shaykh bin Bayyah
Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, met last night after the adoption of the Declaration, with Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, together with other religious leaders. Grim briefed the Shaykh on the potential role of business in fostering interfaith understanding and peace.
Specifically, Grim told about the Foundation’s first global forum on business, interfaith understanding and peace on April 29, 2015, in São Paulo, Brazil’s financial capital. Among the sponsors was Latin America’s oldest mosque, Mesquita Brasil, where the Global Forum was held. The forum brought some 700 leaders together for a gala celebration where Muslims, Jews and Christians dined side-by-side to commemorate its status as a leader in religious freedoms. The theme was “Brazil a voice to the world.” The event is the first of a series to bolster the role of business in supporting religious freedom.
Sheikh Abdel Hammed Metwally, religious leader of Mesquita Brasil, highlighted the positive example of interfaith understanding and peace in Brazil. “This will be the first of many meetings”, he said, and “given the importance of the subject we want to share it with more people and show the world how Brazil stands out in leading position, by tolerating and peacefully accommodate the most diverse creeds. “
Nasser Fares, the lay president of Mesquita Brasil considered it an honor to welcome such an eclectic group in a celebration, highlighting Brazil as an example to other nations. Ricardo Cerqueira Leite, president of the Association for Religious Freedom and Business (ALRN) also noted that Brazil is ahead of many countries to express support and respect for peaceful religious diversity. “We are essentially a nation with natural vocation to deal with religious differences,” he said, “and to conduct ourselves in ways that highlight these values as an example to the world.”
During the meeting withShaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, Grim also invited him to help seek out nominees for the Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards which will recognize business leaders – current or past CEOs – who have demonstrated leadership in championing interfaith understanding and peace.
The Awards will be presented on September 6, 2016, at the start of the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where award recipients will have the opportunity to present their commitment to interfaith understanding and peace while contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 16. The Awards are co-sponsored by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF), its Brazilian affiliate, the Associação pela Liberdade Religiosa e Negócios (ALRN), and the United Nations Global Compact Business for Peace (B4P) platform.
Shaykh bin Bayyah will receive the Newseum’s first religious freedom award this April.