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Vatican and Moroccan flags fly near the Cathedral in Rabat Vatican and Moroccan flags fly near the Cathedral in Rabat 

Pope in Morocco: Local media hails visit as milestone

Morocco has opened its arms in welcome to Pope Francis, with most local media hailing the visit as a significant milestone in the life of the Muslim country. The Pope is also seen as coming to console Muslims after the Christchurch shootings in New Zealand.

By Paul Samasumo – Rabat, Morocco

Many Moroccan newspapers have Pope Francis’ picture splashed on the front pages of their Saturday editions.

The event is being viewed by many Moroccans as a positive event. 'L’Opinion', a daily francophone Moroccan newspaper, led with the headline, ‘Pope Francis Among Us.’ The article finds many parallels between Pope Francis' visit to Morocco and that of Pope Saint John Paul II’s visit in August 1985.

'Pope also comes to console us after Christchurch shootings'

A more interesting and touching angle is the fact that the newspaper sees Pope Francis as one coming to comfort Muslim brothers and sisters after the Christchurch mosque shootings of New Zealand.

Many will no doubt recall the two consecutive terrorist attacks at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday Prayer on 15 March 2019. Fifty people lost their lives in the attacks while fifty others were injured. The gunman was a 28-year-old Australian man, described as a white supremacist.

Notwithstanding the horrific events of Christchurch, many articles in Moroccan newspaper say that it is possible for Christians and Muslims to co-exist in peace.

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Al Bayane calls for co-existence between Christians and Muslims

The Friday edition of French-language 'Al Bayane' newspaper equally called for co-existence on its front page. 

Television stations in Morocco have also televised Pope Francis’ video message that he sent ahead of the visit (with Arabic subtitles). In his video message, the Pope said he was coming to Morocco on "a pilgrimage of peace and fraternity, in a world that greatly needs it."

Pope Francis remarked that both Christians and Muslims believe in God the merciful Creator “who created men and women, and placed them in the world so that they might live as brothers and sisters, respecting each other’s diversity and helping each other in their needs.” He concluded by saying that “It will be a joy for me to share these convictions directly with you at the meeting we will have in Rabat”.

Almost all newspapers also make reference to Pope Francis’ concern for migrants and portray the Kingdom of Morocco as being in tune with the Pope on this issue.

30 March 2019, 12:51