(EN) The closing conference of the project to preserve the cemeteries of the three faiths in Essaouira took place on Tuesday 1 October at Dar al Mouwaten in Essaouira. Below is a translation of an article transmitted by MAP (Maghreb Arab Presse) in English. The French version can be found in the links below.
(FR) La conférence de clôture du projet de préserveration des cimetières des trois religions à Essaouira a eu lieu le mardi 1er Octobre à Dar al Mouwaten à Essaouira. Ci-dessous est une traduction d’un article transmis par la MAP (Maghreb Arabe Presse) en anglais. La version française se trouve dans les liens ci-dessous.
Cemeteries in Essaouira get a facelift
“Essaouira, October 2, 2013 (MAP) – Muslims, Christians and Jews of Essaouira cemeteries have a facelift during a maintenance project and preservation of these sites charged with a multicultural past.
Initiated by the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) and funded by the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation and Essaouira-Mogador Association, this project spread over a year, focuses in particular on training the caretakers of these sites in non-corrosive and other best practice methods to limit the deterioration of the tombs; sustainable plantations to limit degradation of cemeteries and decryption of the epitaphs on the graves and the preservation of knowledge on the website of the HAF. The aim is to make cemeteries welcoming for families and visitors places, encourage respect of passersby and educate the next generation in the spirit of this rich past.
HE Mr Brian Shukan arrives at the conference
At a ceremony marking the completion of the project, held Tuesday in Essaouira in the presence of the Consul General of the United States in Casablanca, Brian Shukan, the initiators of the program explained that the NGO created sustainable partnerships for historic preservation, adding that the weekly community meetings were held with more than 120 representatives of civil society organizations, in addition to building productive relationships withassociations, public sector organizations, business and the media.
In this sense, several actions have been undertaken, such as the organization of a conference on “The cemeteries of the three religions in Essaouira as heritage of diversity and unity,” on May 8; the celebration of the International Day for Monuments and Sites (18 April 2013) with young beneficiaries of local associations; organizing visits to cemeteries for the benefit of more than 400 pupils and students, creating a virtual photo album to stimulate interest in these monuments and editing self-guided brochures, in addition to cleaning, clearing, and removing weeds and restoring graves in the cemeteries targeted.
According to the initiators of the project, the choice of the cemeteries of the three religions in Essaouira is explained by their symbolic dimension which refers to the multicultural history of the city of the trade winds. The Moroccan identity embodies the natural integration of unity and diversity. They added that this initiative is a gateway to other actions of human development in the province of Essaouira.
“By making the cemeteries most welcoming, encouraging more visitors to discover these cemeteries for the first time and helping the current generation to remember its rich roots of their peaceful coexistence, this project will help preserve the illustrious past of Essaouira for future generations, “said Mr. Shukan this occasion, adding that “in a world that sometimes seems more divided, the cemeteries of Essaouira capture the spirit of interfaith and intercultural tolerance.”
Describing the project as “a testament to the cooperation between the United States and Morocco,” Mr. Shukan focused on “empowering the local community through a participatory approach” which has been a key aspect this initiative.
He also stressed the importance of cultural heritage as a “reminder of the contributions and historical experiences of humanity,” adding that “the historical monuments and archaeological sites and objects enrich and inform today’s societies and help us to establish relationships with our cultural backgrounds.”
The Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation was launched by the U.S. Congress in 2001. To date, it has funded more than 500 restoration projects across the world.
In Morocco, the program has supported several projects of preservation and restoration, such as the restoration in 2010 of the Kasbah Mehdiya Kenitra; the preservation Hammam Aghmat 11th century in the region of Marrakesh (in 2008); the production and recording of traditional and spiritual music women in several regions of Morocco (2005); and the restoration and preservation of ancient fountains in the medina of Tangier representing the symbol of style Tangiers (2002).”