When the National Foundation of Museums of Morocco’s (NFM) announced their plans to transform Fes’s Batha Museum into the Musee de l’Art de l’Islam (The Museum of the Art of Islam) the largely muslim population celebrated.
Today, the Kingdom’s diminishing Jewish population has a reason to celebrate as the organisation have revealed plans to open a Jewish memory museum.
The announcement comes after a visit to the Jewish cemetery in Fes last week by the president of the NFM Mehdi Qotbi and local government officials. The move is part of an effort to increase national awareness on the Kingdom’s rich history—including the nation’s largely lost Judeo-Moroccan population.
Prior to 1948, the Jewish presence in Morocco amounted to 4 percent of the total population. The number has since decreased, falling to less than 2,500 upon the founding of Israel. With such a small number of Moroccan Jews left in the nation, Moroccan Judaism and its expansive history have largely been forgotten.
Currently only one museum stands in celebration of Jewish-Moroccan history. The Judeo-Moroccan Cultural Heritage Foundation founded their museum in Casablanca in 1994 (which is still the only Jewish museum in North Africa and the Middle East).
The new museum, which has yet to be officially named, is set to open its doors by 2020.
For Qotbi, it is “necessary and important for this common memory to be highlighted”, and he plans for the museum to be a “strong message from Fes to the world”.