Ambassador Ahmed and the Journey into Europe team arrived in the autonomous city of Melilla as part of their travels through Spain.
Melilla, alongside Ceuta, is one of two Spanish cities situated on the North African coast bordering Morocco. This small city, comprising 12 square kilometers of territory, has been part of Spain since 1497. The city’s population numbers 78,000, about half of which are Muslim, consisting mainly of Berbers of the Rif. The rest of the population is mainly Christian, and also includes Jews and Hindus.
In Melilla, Ambassador Ahmed met with and interviewed a number of leading dignitaries of the city including: the President of Melilla, Juan Jose Imbroda Ortiz; the Spanish government delegate Abdelmalik el Barkani; and Fadela Mohatar Maanan, the President of Melilla’s Institute of Cultures and the Assistant Director of the Department of Women’s Affairs. Being both a Berber and female, the dynamic Ms. Maanan is in the perfect position to act as a true ambassador between the faiths and communities in Melilla. Ahmed and his team also met the leadership of the various religious communities in Melilla and visited all the major houses of worship representing the different faiths. They were honored to be guests at a special interfaith dinner hosted by Ms. Maanan and attended by the heads of the different religious communities.
During the interview with the President, he spoke of the importance of the city of Melilla as a living example of la convivencia, or coexistence, between various faith communities. He also discussed the importance of education and knowledge for instilling this respect for other peoples and faiths from a young age. Appreciating the importance of the Journey into Europe project, the president wished Ambassador Ahmed and his team much “exito” or success on their journey.