Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has visited the country’s newly-opened ‘House of Memory’, showcasing historic Jewish-Muslim relations and coexistence in the coastal city of Essaouira.
The Jewish community in Essaouira was once so numerous that there were 37 synagogues, with many families having arrived after their mass expulsion from Spain by the Catholic king in 1492. The new museum is housed in one such synagogue, built with carved woodwork by a wealthy merchant, adjoining his house, and details the life of Moroccan Jews.
It includes the families and descendants such as Lord Belisha, Britain’s minister of transport, finance and war during the 1930s and 40s, whose appointment to the post of minister of information was blocked for antisemitic reasons. His name is now known for the amber ‘Belisha beacons’ at pedestrian crossings. Bayt Dakira “testifies to a period when Islam and Judaism had closeness,” said the king’s adviser.