Fez, Morocco — Five times a day, from the tops of mosques across the ancient city of Fez, Morocco, the soothing voices of muezzins calls Muslims to prayer. But each summer during the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music those sacred chants in the majority Muslim country mingle with the sounds of music from a variety of other faiths and cultures including Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian. The annual Fes Festival began 16 years ago in the aftermath of the first Gulf War. Organizers say the hope was that musical harmony would drown out the noise of political differences. “When you see these people, you have a profound feeling that comes to you because you see that humanity is the same,” said festival president Mohamed Kabbaj. His point resonates with Afro-pop group Amadou & Mariam from Mali, who performed at this year’s festival in early June. The blind husband-and-wife duo both lost their vision from illnesses at young ages. But what they gained, they say, is an honest way of seeing others. “As we say when we are blind: we see best with the heart,” said Amadou Bagayoko. “The only difference we hear are male or female voices. What we hear is that we are all human. That’s the most important thing,” he continued.
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