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It gives me great pleasure to send you this message as the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization celebrates its thirtieth anniversary.
I was happy to grant my patronage to such an important commemorative event, given the role played by this OIC institution, its mission to preserve the Islamic identity and its contribution to the promotion of joint Islamic action.
Since the Organization's inception in Fez on 3rd May 1982, under the high patronage of my revered father, His Majesty King Hassan II - may he rest in peace - Morocco has hosted and supported this influential institution, thereby seeking to help it achieve its lofty objectives and fulfill the aspirations of Muslim peoples, who yearn for greater access to knowledge, science and culture in order to rise to current and future challenges.
The setting up of this institution as a specialized organization marked a quantum leap forward in joint Islamic action. The aim has been to build a solid base for Islamic cultural revival while seeking to achieve educational, scientific, cultural and media objectives, building on a comprehensive vision that capitalizes on Member States' cooperation, partnership and concerted efforts.
We are most appreciative of all that the Organization has accomplished during the past three decades. Indeed, it has implemented various plans and strategies to develop education curricula in Islamic countries, keep pace with scientific progress, encourage scientific research and promote Islamic culture.
Furthermore, the Organization has made significant contributions to cultural dialogue, to the alliance of civilizations, to co-existence and acceptance of others, to the endorsement of the principles of human rights and responsible citizenship, and to the promotion of the ideals of pluralism and consultation.
We also commend the Organization for providing a forum for debate and exchange of views and expertise, and for bringing together prominent Muslim intellectuals, academics and key figures in its areas of competence. The Organization has given financial support as well as technical and academic assistance to Member States and to Muslim minorities and communities. It has also awarded scholarships to students from Member States.
Through effective action and careful planning, ISESCO has become one of the most successful and credible specialized regional organizations, gaining in status and recognition in the international arena thanks to cooperation and partnership mechanisms with like-minded regional and international institutions.
I should like, in this respect, to express my deep appreciation to His Excellency Dr. Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri for his earnest efforts at the head of the Organization's general secretariat, his sincere keenness to serve Islamic objectives, his efficiency and competence, his wisdom and far-sightedness as well as his endeavors to promote the Organization as much as possible and enhance joint Islamic action in ISESCO's fields of competence.
I reaffirm the Kingdom of Morocco's continuing support for the Organization and wish to commend the contributions Member States have made towards the implementation on the ground of ISESCO's plans and strategies.
I should like to call for further solidarity, coordination and cooperation between Islamic countries in the areas of education, training, science, modern communication technology and sustainable development. The aim is to prepare today's young people as well as future generations so that they may be part of the global civilization, gain in self-confidence, be proud of who they are and uphold their time-honored values. Our goal is also to protect them against extremism, spiritual emptiness, blind subservience and alienation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In a world of sweeping changes, successive crises and uncertain frames of reference that further compound the problems of intolerance, extremism and insularity, the reasons that were behind ISESCO's creation have become even more relevant today. This is particularly true regarding the need to enhance and safeguard the Islamic identity, while remaining open to the world around us and fully involved in the knowledge and communication-based society.
In an environment marked by a great many challenges, the Organization is called upon today, more than ever before, to respond favorably to the aspirations of Muslim peoples for further solidarity and human and sustainable development, to support programs and projects designed to combat the illiteracy, ignorance and reclusiveness affecting large segments of our societies, and to seek to strengthen cooperation between Member States in the areas of science, technology and information.
In the same vein, new, effective approaches should be adopted to keep pace with the rapid developments affecting the world in various fields, but more so in the areas of computer science and modern technology, given their close link to human, economic and cultural development.
Today, the means of acquiring education are no longer restricted to the family, school and society. There are now other parallel channels made possible by modern technology and the digital revolution. These new tools are developing rapidly and extensively in today's world. They therefore have a direct impact on individuals and communities alike, and hence on our societies.
Considering the magnitude of current and future challenges - especially in the area of digital technology - our states, societies and organizations must rely on their own capabilities and adopt genuine, solidarity-based policies in order to rise to the crucial task of bridging the digital divide between Islamic countries and developed nations.
They will thus be able to benefit from science and innovation, which open up vast prospects for development in all fields. This is an urgent priority for our peoples, who have become increasingly reliant on digital technology.
As human development must constitute a top priority for Islamic countries, ISESCO should contribute to the development of an educational and cultural model that keeps pace with the times. Such a model should also build on the rich legacy of the Ummah's distinguished scholars and thinkers, as well as on the distinctive Islamic values of peace, concord, tolerance and dialogue which have, from time immemorial, been an inexhaustible source of inspiration for other human civilizations.
This means we have to identify the most effective ways and mechanisms to promote science and scientists as well as culture and cultural figures in Islamic countries in order for science and culture to play their crucial role as engines of growth, progress and the advancement of democracy.
I should like, in this respect, to call for further collective efforts and for continued support to be given to the Organization in this area. ISESCO should be provided with all the means and resources it needs to achieve its lofty objectives.
I am confident that this esteemed Organization, which my venerable father, His Majesty King Hassan II - may he rest in peace - viewed as "the conscience of the Muslim Ummah", will contribute, through committed action and the support of Member States, to the achievement of comprehensive, sustainable human development, give concrete substance to Islamic solidarity and promote cooperation between Islamic countries to uphold righteousness, piety and good deeds.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As well as working hard to promote education, science and culture in the Islamic world, ISESCO has made effective, commendable contributions to the defense of the city of Al-Quds and the preservation of its spiritual and cultural identity as well as its historical and archaeological sites.
Furthermore, it has exposed the blatant Israeli violations of holy shrines and the continuing destruction of Palestinian educational and cultural institutions in the occupied city. It has also sought to have Palestinian natural and archaeological sites included in the World Heritage List.
As Chairman of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's Al-Quds Committee, I have repeatedly condemned the illegitimate practices of the Israeli authorities regarding Islamic and Christian endowments in Al-Quds, as well as Israel's aggressive practices to conceal and distort the cultural identity of the steadfast city through digging and excavation operations in the vicinity of the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, the escalation of settlement building on Palestinian territory, and the destruction of the homes of Al-Quds inhabitants as well as their forced deportation.
Given this alarming situation, I should like to stress the need for concerted efforts and initiatives to address these unacceptable practices. They are not only inconsistent with international legitimacy resolutions and the United Nations conventions, but they are also incompatible with the teachings of the revealed religions and the lofty values of mankind.
We shall pursue our efforts and our contacts with the influential powers in the international arena to exert pressure on the Israeli government in order compel it to stop its plans to change the architectural and demographic make-up of the holy city, and induce it to preserve the spiritual and cultural characteristics of Al-Quds, which symbolize inter-faith coexistence.
The question of Al-Quds in particular, and the Palestinian cause in general, will continue to feature high on the list of our chief concerns. I should like, in this respect, to reiterate our long-standing position as well as our constant support for the struggle of the Palestinian people.
We will continue to back all well-meaning efforts and initiatives designed to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, and to guarantee legitimate Palestinian rights, including the right to establish an independent, fully sovereign State, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital - a viable State living side by side with the State of Israel, in a climate of security, peace, stability and concord for all peoples in the region.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The celebration of ISESCO's thirtieth anniversary is more than an occasion to reminisce on past achievements. It should be a defining moment for exploring future action.
Considering the reputed intellectuals gathered here today and the high-level participation from Member States, I am sure your conference will develop a constructive, promising and forward-looking vision for the future action of this esteemed organization.
I welcome you all to Morocco, the land of dialogue and major international gatherings. I pray that Almighty God grant you every success and help you contribute to the dignity and glory of the Muslim Ummah.
Wassalamu alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh.