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Morocco: a model of Muslim-Jewish ties

The tone of tolerance for the nation's Jewish minority begins with the king.

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As the flames of anti-Semitism continue to be fanned across much of the Islamic world, there is a risk that today's youth will grow up believing that Arabs and Jews were simply not meant to coexist, let alone thrive together.

That idea conflicts with history – and is a falsehood today. My country, Morocco, illustrates the viability and vitality of a Jewish community – my community – in an Arab country. It's a model of harmony other Muslim nations should follow.

The Jewish people have been a presence in Africa's Maghreb region for more than 2,000 years. North African Jews and Muslims traveled north and thrived together in southern Europe for more than 700 years. In 1492, when we refused to convert to Christianity, we were expelled – together – from Spain. And together we successfully sought refuge in Morocco, which accepted us into its society and institutions.

A history of defending Jews

Morocco's leaders have always made the well-being of the Jewish people a top priority. During World War II, when the Vichy government of occupied France announced that it had prepared 200,000 yellow stars for the Jews of Morocco, King Mohammed V replied that he would need 50 more for him and his family. He refused to make any distinction between his citizens.

The importance of a nation's leader setting the tone for recognition, respect, and treatment of minority faiths can- not be overstated. Today, King Mohammed VI has declared his religious, historical, and constitutional obligation to protect the rights, liberties, and sacred values of the Jews in Morocco.

This commitment dramatically affected Morocco's reaction at moments of great challenge. After May 16, 2003 – the Moroccan 9/11, when five terrorist bombs exploded, three directed at Jewish targets – King Mohammed VI expressed condolences at a Jewish Center, condemning the criminal acts and reaffirming his determination to protect Jews and all Moroccan citizens.

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