AFRICA/MOROCCO - “ALHAMDULILLAH”: Christians and Muslims work side by side, together for the same cause”

Tuesday, 19 September 2023


Marrakech (Agenzia Fides) - "On Sunday, September 10, in the parish of the Holy Martyrs in Marrakech, during the Mass celebrated by Archbishop Cristobal Lopez Romero, the Lord's Prayer was recited in Arabic as a sign of solidarity with the Moroccan people," writes Lucia Valori, member of the Parish of the Holy Martyrs in Marrakesh. In recent days, together with the Catholic community of the Moroccan capital, she has been helping the victims of the earthquake that hit the El Haouz region on September 8 (see Fides, 11/9/2023). Lucia, who is also president of the Italian association "Med-mari e deserti", which promotes intercultural dialogue, reports on her experiences over the past few days.
"Late in the evening of Friday, September 8th, the 'Red City' also shook for more than 30 seconds," she writes. "I live with my husband, a Moroccan, in a fourth-floor apartment in the modern Gueliz district. We rushed out of the building onto the street, convinced that we would find a devastated city, so strong was the earthquake. Instead, we soon discovered that the city had held up well despite the great terror. We spent the night in the car, in a panic, but the next day life in Gueliz had returned to normal." "Instead the medina, in the Old Town, the other soul of the city of Marrakech, famous for its historic buildings, unfortunately suffered collapses, especially in certain areas such as the Jewish Quarter (Mellah). Some people have lost their homes and their businesses, but also thanks to the presence of tourists, who did not leave the city, but on the contrary immediately offered their support, a certain normality quickly returned."
"Enormous damage with a large number of fatalities has unfortunately occurred in the area of the epicenter", the report continued, confirming that the death toll is over three thousand. "Numerous villages in the High Atlas Mountains, mainly Inhabited by the Berber population, native to Morocco, whose houses are made of straw and clay, were razed to the ground. Human stories of incredible pain, but also of great dignity and acceptance. It is touching to see so many people who, with tears, in the face of the devastation around them, are still able to raise their eyes to Heaven and say 'ALHAMDULILLAH', or 'thank God'.
"Morocco is a country known for its hospitality and welcoming spirit. And the people who live in these mountainous regions are particularly friendly and kind," said Lucia Valori. "The villages devastated today made the landscapes of the High Atlas even more beautiful, camouflaged in the colors of the mountains. Although they are not crossed by the classic tourist routes, I too have walked this path many times. The faces, especially those of the old people and children, remain in my heart." An incredible chain of solidarity was immediately created, in addition to the institutional help offered by so many countries", confirms Lucia Valori. "There were collection points for essentials everywhere, transport vehicles with goods were constantly going back and forth between Marrakesh and the earthquake villages. The Catholic Church immediately took action. Archbishop Lopez, who is also President of Caritas Morocco, came to Marrakech to support the population and visit the earthquake areas together with the local Caritas representative. Together with representatives of other Christian denominations present in Morocco, he sent a touching message of closeness and solidarity to his Muslim brothers and sisters who are so severely affected." "The parish of Marrakesh with its parish priest Father Manuel Corullon, Caritas and many lay volunteers are working hard to help the earthquake victims and the many orphans," the report continues. "Morocco has a long history of coexistence with other monotheistic religions "The Catholic Church has two archdioceses: Rabat and Tangier, and the Catholic faithful living here are mostly foreigners and immigrants. Here interreligious dialogue is lively, constant and takes place daily among our Muslim brothers and sisters". "In these very painful days for our country, I was reminded of a very significant sentence that was read some time ago in a very beautiful book 'The desert is my cathedral' by Bishop Claude Rault, in which the prelate spoke of his experiences in the Diocese in the Algerian Sahara. Bishop Rault writes: 'An interreligious dialogue that neglects the human terrain, the web of relationships, remains theoretical and has no influence on the lives of believers and society. Only a shared passion for humanity is capable of creating bridges between us and give meaning to our differences." "This tragic event has made the relationship between Christians and Muslims even stronger and more significant", concluded Lucia. "We work together side by side, everyone does what they can, everyone has the same spirit and is committed to the same cause". (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 19/9/2023)