Pope and Moroccan King Call for 'Peaceful Coexistence' in Jerusalem

Pope Francis and Moroccan King Mohammed VI issue joint appeal during the former's overnight visit to the capital of Rabat

Pope Francis and Moroccan King Mohammed VI at the Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams, Rabat, March 30, 2019.

Pope Francis and Moroccan King Mohammed VI are calling for Jerusalem to be preserved as a symbol of peaceful coexistence and for Muslims, Jews and Christians to be allowed to worship there freely.

The two leaders issued a joint appeal on Saturday as Francis arrived in the Moroccan capital Rabat for an overnight visit, aimed at encouraging Christian-Muslim ties and showing solidarity with Morocco's ever-growing migrant community.

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The appeal said it was important to preserve the Holy City "as the common patrimony of humanity and especially the followers of the three monotheistic religions, as a place of encounter and as a symbol of peaceful coexistence, where mutual respect and dialogue can be cultivated."

Pope Francis praised Morocco's efforts to promote an Islam that repudiates extremism as he opens a quick trip to the North African kingdom that has tried to distinguish itself as a beacon of religious tolerance and moderation in the Muslim world.

Tensions erupted in late February over Israel's closure of a building at a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

The walled compound, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the golden Dome of the Rock, is the third-holiest site in Islam and the holiest site of Judaism.