Morocco’s Islamist PM inaugurates refurbished Fez synagogue
Message from King Muhammad VI, praising the Jewish community and pledging to protect it, read out at ceremony
Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel
Morocco’s Islamist Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane inaugurated the reopening of a historic synagogue in the city of Fez Wednesday, conveying the wish of Morocco’s King Muhammad VI that all the country’s synagogues be refurbished and serve as centers for cultural dialogue.
Benkirane, head of the Justice and Development party, wore the traditional Moroccan Fez and a white robe at the reopening ceremony of the seventeenth century Slat Al Fassiyine (Prayer of the Fesians) synagogue, where he read out a congratulatory message by King Muhammad VI, A-Sharq Al-Awsat reported.
From its peak of over 250,000 during the late 1940s, the Jewish community of Morocco has shrunk to less than 5,000 today. Most Jews left the country during the 1950s and 1960s following the establishment of Israel, with the remaining community members mostly concentrated in Casablanca.
According to local media, Benkirane conveyed the King’s praise for the historic influence of Jews in Moroccan culture and his commitment to protect Jewish freedom of religion.
The synagogue will serve as a cultural center focusing on interfaith dialogue.