The Fes Festival is Cool

When we decided to add a blog to The Magical Buffet’s website, the idea was that it would end up being this kind of fluffy thing where I would spend time going, “Isn’t this thing cool?”  Instead, I’ve somehow ended up spending time learning about Roman Catholic Canon Law, discussing the misrepresentation of Wicca, and most recently, trying to wrap my brain around the Malaysian Constitution.  Which is why I was concerned when I decided I wanted to write about the Fes Festival that recently took place.
I told Jim, I want to write about this festival, but all I really have to say about it is that it is really cool.  Shouldn’t there be more?  He assured me that it was okay to just write about something because it was cool, so here we go.
The 13th annual Fes Festival of World Sacred Music took place June 1 to the June 10 of this year.  If you’re like me, you’ve never heard of this thing, and if you’re like me, the more you learn the more you wish you could go. 
After the Gulf War, two Islamic scholars decided to start an interfaith music festival in Morocco to promote peace.  It is held each year in Fez, a medieval city over 1000 years old.  Performers from around the world gather in Fez to share their music, making it a cultural melting pot of races and faiths. 
2007 marks the 800th anniversary of the Islamic sage and poet Jalaluddin Rumi ( so various concerts and rituals throughout the festival were in celebration of Rumi and his teachings.  The free concerts included, Latefa Raefat (Morocco), Majda Yahyaqui (a female Moroccan artist performing malhoun music, which is typically done by men), Said Bey (who performs rai and malhoun blended with funky bits of flamenco and salsa), Amarg Fusion (This group is a symbol of Amazigh culture), the London Community Gospel Choir, Johnny Clegg (“Zulu Rock”, which is African song with electric guitar), Elias Karam (Syrian performer), and obviously many more.
It’s not just music; they also host “Fes Encounters”, where politicians, activists, and academics are brought together to discuss urgent issues.  Past topics have been conflict resolution, climate change, social justice, and urban renewal.  This year they discussed cultural diversity versus globalization and the relationship between faith and reason.  They broke them down into 3 days.  Day one, “Our cultural identities vs. globalization.”  Day two, “Our heritage cities: reflections of an ancient world or an imaginative resource for the future?”  And day three, “Our beliefs and our reason put to the test in the new world.”
Oh, and all of this is taking place in a country where 98.7% of the population are Muslim.  (1.1% are Christian and 0.2% are Jewish, in case you were curious)  That is right, an Islamic culture is not only hosting these festivals, they came up with the idea in the first place.  In my opinion, the Fes Festival proves that there is room for everyone in the world, regardless of faith.  That is why I am writing this blog, because the Fes Festival is cool.
Want to learn more, visit their website:, just be sure when you get there you click on the English option, unless you speak French or Arabic!
Want to learn even more?  Well, I could go next year and write about it that way you would hear about it first hand.  Make checks payable to Rebecca Elson.  I’ll be sure to send you a postcard!