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Morocco King receives prize for 'tolerance' despite suppressing protests

Global Hope Coalition awarded Moroccan King Mohammed VI. Prince Moulay Rachid accepted the award on His behalf on 19 September, 2017 [Twitter]
Global Hope Coalition awarded Moroccan King Mohammed VI. His brother, Prince Moulay Rachid accepted the award on His behalf on 19 September, 2017 [Twitter]

Morocco's King Mohammed VI has received an award for Special Recognition of Leadership in Promoting Tolerance and Intercultural Reconciliation from the foundation Global Coalition for Hope despite the suppression of protests in the north of the country in the last year.

The King's brother, Prince Moulay Rachid, accepted the award on behalf of this father at a ceremony held at the Public Library in New York under the patronage of UNESCO in the presence of Heads of State, diplomatic representatives and personalities from the political, arts and cultural worlds.

Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, handed the award to him.

The Global Coalition for Hope is a network of three non-profit foundations based in New York, Zurich and Hong Kong and was set up this month to reward and encourage individuals who are active in countering terrorism and violence in order to preserve shared cultural heritage and build bridges between cultures.

The King was awarded the prize for his work in "promoting the values of tolerance, otherness and the right environment" through his response to extremism and radical ideas by consolidating the values of mutual respect and openness," Bokova explained.

Former National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush, Juan Zarate also echoed Bokova's sentiments and told Maghreb Arab Press that "Morocco, under the enlightened leadership of King Mohammed VI, is a bulwark against religious extremism, and positions itself as a model of a tolerant and open Muslim society the world."

The award however contradicts the recent tensions that have been boiling in the north for several years now and where the King is viewed as a figure of suppression following the heavy-handed response of security services against protesters.

Human Rights Watch recently released a report lambasting the King for whitewashing "the police's handling of the unrest in Al-Hoceima" which has seen authorities arrest hundreds of supporters of the "popular movement" which has been the main organiser of the protests.

Read more: In Morocco, stopping the Rif mobilisation requires democratisation

Morocco this week blasted the report and accused it of basing its facts on "unfounded allegations" which it "categorically" rejected despite the fact that one protester has died as a result of police brutality.

The rights group called on the King to launch an investigation into the claims of abuses the detainees have faced whilst imprisoned.

However despite medical examinations testing the claims of abuses at the hands of the authorities, the King has done little to honour the protesters' demands for greater development and funding in the Rif region or initiate reforms that will help the turbulent region.

The award will be added to Mohammed's growing collection of prizes for various recognitions and achievements. In May this year he was awarded the Energy Efficiency Visionary Award by the World Energy Efficiency Forum in Washington for his "outstanding" and "visionary" leadership and in 2016 was awarded the Mandela Peace Prize 2016 by the Paris-based Mandela Institute.

He was also awarded the prize for his "efforts to promote the development of Africa through economic, security and cultural diplomacy."

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