Preserving the heritage of Essaouira: remembering the past to create a peaceful future

PRESS RELEASE - Ouafa Elbargui - Publié le Samedi 22 Juin 2013 à 12:02

Preserving the heritage of Essaouira: remembering the past to create a peaceful future
The High Atlas Foundation  was honoured  by the visit of US Consul General, Brian Shukan to the sites of its cultural heritage project in Essaouira today. The visit took place during the 16 cemeteries of the different faiths in this small port town, demonstrate explicitly Essaouira’s multi-cultural past and its role as a cultural crossroads, which is unique in Morocco.

The visit began withShukan’s delegation paying their respects at the Muslim cemetery “Chouhada” at Bab Marrakech before passing to the new Jewish and Christian cemeteries at Bab Doukkala.

At the cemeteries,Shukan  was welcomed  and accompanied  by  André Azoulay,Adviser to His Majesty King Mohammed VI and His Majesty’s Governor for the Province of Essaouira,  Abdelouahab El Jabri, as well as other local representatives. They met local school children who have passed through the education program which accompanies HAF’s cemetery rehabilitation project. They explained what they had learned and their impressions

of the project.

Thanks to the US Ambassador’s Cultural Preservation Fund (ACPF),  the High Atlas Foundation and its partners have initiated a preservation and maintenance program for the Moslem, Christian, and Jewish cemeteries in Essaouira, which stand as present-day reminders of the multicultural past of this small city and Morocco at-large, where people of different faiths shared a town, a life, work, a culture, and language.

Morocco epitomizes the natural integration of unity and diversity. Through understanding the past, and by sharing it with the world, we can hope for a peaceful and tolerant future.

As part of the project, workers and volunteers have been cleaning the three cemeteries for a month. On 22 June, HAF and its partners invite local people and visitors to a community planting session in the Christian cemetery with a view to making it more welcoming and

attractive for mourners and visitors. All are welcome at 10am (10:00) on Saturday 22 June at the Christian cemetery.

Also during the Gnaoua Festival, the High Atlas Foundation and its partners will launch a tourist brochure about the cemeteries which will be available in the cemeteries and tourist venues, hotels and restaurants around Essaouira.

Community cleaning continues in the Muslim cemetery Chouhada on 30 June. This is the third community cleaning event on a Sunday and all have attracted considerable loca interest. All are welcome at 10am (10:00) on Sunday 30 June at the Muslim cemetery.

the dition of the Festival Gnaoua Music du Monde. This Festival, like the

Notes for Editors:

The High Atlas Foundation (HAF) is a Moroccan association and US 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to participatory development through local, national, and international partnerships.

The HAF philosophy is to create an inclusive process for community development that relies on the participation of all local stakeholders, and especially the most marginalized groups.

HAF integrates participatory methods of community planning to identify, design, and implement sustainable human development projects, in agriculture, health, education, small businesses, and women and youth empowerment. The essence of HAF’s work is that the projects are identified and realized wholly by the communities who solely benefit from them.

More information about HAF:

More information about the project:

HAF is very grateful for the strong support of the Essaouira Province and the provincial delegations of Culture, Tourism, L'Entraide Nationale and Habous and Islamic Affairs as well as the Municipal Council of Essaouira.

In addition, HAF has assembled a set of black and white photographs of Old Mogador online on Flickr.

We hope to stimulate discussion, reminiscing and inter-generational dialogue around Essaouira’s past, its cultural heritage and the legacy of religious cohabitation. Viewers of the album are welcome to comment on the photos directly online or send their information and ideas to HAF at the address on the album.

Photo album:

In Akraich, Al Haouz Province, HAF has partnered with the Trustees of the Sacred Site of Rabbi Raphael Ha Cohen and the Jewish Community of Marrakech to improve the lives of over 10,000 people in twelve rural villages in Akraich region by planting and transferring skills to local community members to maintain 80,000 fruit trees. HAF is actively seeking project opportunities of this nature in Essaouira Province.


Lynn Sheppard Zohra Lakhdar
Project and Development Manager Participatory Facilitator
(EN, FR, DE) (AR, FR)
Tel: 06 49 88 0904 Tel: 06 53 23 22 52

Preserving the heritage of Essaouira: remembering the past to create a peaceful future

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