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The Casablanca Institute; a new US - Morocco Think Tank On Religious Engagement

Washington / Morocco Board News Service -     “The Casablanca Institute”, an action-oriented think tank, with the objective of making permanent the interfaith dialogue that has occurred between leaders in Morocco and the US since 2004, was established the same week that Morocco celebrated its first-ever “Morocco Earth Day”.

“We believe that the founding of The Casablanca Institute is testimony to the good will and friendship that exists between the two nations, and also to the need to create permanent institutions to foster ‘religious engagement’ that will address the twin-Armageddons of climate change and nuclear war,” said Richard Cizik, co-chairman of The Casablanca Institute and President of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.
 "In a World where many dangers threaten the human species, reaching out to each other and working together among people from different faiths is absolutely vital. The Casablanca Institute, initiated by people of good faith and strong will from the USA and Morocco, is in position to contribute enormously to this outreach," said Institute co-chairman Driss Alaoui-Mdaghri.
 
Among those officials who spoke at the founding meeting of the Casablanca Institute was Rachel Bronson, Vice-President of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.   Under Ms. Bronson’s leadership the Council recently released a landmark document entitled “Engaging Religious Communities Abroad: A New Imperative for U.S. Foreign Policy.”
 
Founding board members of the Casablanca Institute include Driss Alaoui-Mdaghri, four-time Cabinet Minister and civil society leader, and co-chair of the Institute with Richard Cizik, who also served over the past two years as a co-chair of the Chicago Council document on religious engagement.  Other board members, include Driss Ouaouicha, President of Al-Akhwayn University; H.E. Nourredine Sefiani, former Moroccan Ambassador to Russia and other nations; and Michael Kirtley, President, The Friendship Caravan, which was responsible for initiating the dialogue between Evangelicals and Muslims back in 2004.
 
The Casablanca Institute founders believe that leaders of faith and their communities can play a constructive role in building “common ground” in social, political and economic developments.  During the Institute’s first meetings in Casablanca, Morocco the founding board held extensive discussions on the recently released document of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs entitled “Engaging Religious Communities Abroad.”  In the near future the Moroccan leaders of the Institute will report on their reactions to this document.
 
The document states that “Apart from the activism of [these] religiously inspired peace-builders on the one hand and religious inspired terrorists on the other – each operating at opposite ends of the spectrum of religious violence – there is a vast and complicated ‘middle’ of religious presences in global affairs." To take one positive example, the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good has engaged in a sustained dialogue with Moroccan Muslim leaders on religiously inspired care for the environment that offers ways to engage religious communities in addressing climate change and other environmental challenges.  
 
The founders of the Casablanca Institute are aware that recent actions by the Kingdom of Morocco to expel some missionaries for proselytizing necessitate ongoing dialogue over differences of opinion on religious freedom.  During their visit to Morocco, Messrs. Cizik and Kirtley held lengthy discussions with top-level officials on this topic.  “We believe that The Casablanca Institute creates a forum for honest reflection about the differences that exist on these matters,” Cizik said.
 
The Casablanca Institute was created as a non-profit think tank having a legal presence both in Morocco and in the United States. It will be open to people of all faiths, focusing especially on relations between Christians, Muslims, and Jews. It will be seeking support from foundations, institutions, and private individuals, and its scope of activity will later extend to other nations of North Africa and the Middle East. The next joint meeting of American and Moroccan leaders will occur in Fall 2010, with the naming of additional board members and an agreed upon agenda to discuss the threats of terrorism that exist for both nations.

Comments (4)  

 
adil N
0 #1 Casablanca instutute a new hope for better futureadil N 2010-05-19 01:02
Morocco has been a county of tolerance and acceptance to other religions. In fact Morocco had over 300,000 Moroccan Jewish up to 1945. Nowadays, The Casablanca institutes services are very essential l to keep the open dialogue between religious leaders of both faiths in the hope of better understanding of both religions, Christianity and Islam and create a bridge of tolerance and acceptance without prejudice. Knowing personally the people behind the insatiate of CI , I believe that Rich Cizik and his friends will focus on promoting more dialogues that will lead to better understanding of both religious in an aim to accept their differences, yet embarrass their humanity
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adil N
0 #2 Casablanca instutute a new hope for better futureadil N 2010-05-19 01:03
Morocco has been a county of tolerance and acceptance to other religions. In fact Morocco had over 300,000 Moroccan Jewish up to 1945. Nowadays, The Casablanca institutes services are very essential l to keep the open dialogue between religious leaders of both faiths in the hope of better understanding of both religions, Christianity and Islam and create a bridge of tolerance and acceptance without prejudice. Knowing personally the people behind the insatiate of CI , I believe that Rich Cizik and his friends will focus on promoting more dialogues that will lead to better understanding of both religious in an aim to accept their differences, yet embarrass their humanity
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DHJ
0 #3 Another Window DressingDHJ 2010-05-20 23:13
This initiative by Morocco's officials is just another lure to hide the country's serious spiritual and ideological marasm. On one hand Morocco sponsors fancy inter-faith dialogues with fancy people in fancy places to impress Western audiences. On the other, social conformism, ideological conservatism, subservience to traditional authority are not only encouraged but their transgression triggers the wrath of the authorities. Kissing the hand of the king, the kaid, the dean, the judge doesn't send a great signal of open mindedness. The intimidation of young unmarried couples in hotels, of christian missionaries, of groups or individuals who don't fit the conservative mold don't send a message of tolerance. In Morocco if you are arrested for being in the street with a woman who is not related to you or a policeman smells alcohol (even without disturbing public order) you can pay a hefty bribe or go to jail. Enough already!
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Casaoui
0 #4 from top to bottomCasaoui 2012-02-16 22:08
Bureaucratic institutions will not be able to change facts in the field. This istitution, unlike similars in western countries, is driven by the establishment and is not ever able to exist except in papers and when they request funds from US.
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