Diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Morocco hold abundant historical romantic values. A number of facts regarding bilateral relations between the two friendly countries are always fascinating. The Indonesian Ambassador to Morocco, Hasrul Azwar, in the special interview which was broadcast on the Voice of Indonesia YouTube channel on Monday (29/01) conveyed a number of important notes that underlie the friendship between the two countries.
Firstly, Ambassador Hasrul Azwar said, long before the inauguration of diplomatic relations, Indonesia was known by Moroccan people since 1346 AD through the expedition of the great Moroccan explorer named Ibnu Battuta (d. 1369 AD). The prominent sailor wrote in his book entitled Rehla Ibnu Battuta's, about his historic journey from Morocco to Egypt, Syria, India, China until he landed in Aceh. In which Battuta described the existence of an Islamic Kingdom, namely Samudera Pasai, which worshiped the Almighty Allah. Today, we can find the tomb of famous Muslim sailors located in the city of Tangier, a seaside city across Spain. So, it can be concluded that Moroccans were the first to visit Indonesia at that time.
Secondly, Hasrul Azwar continued that President Soekarno enjoyed a noble position in the eyes of the Moroccan people. Sukarno is considered a world revolutionary figure who was able to gather the forces of Asia and Africa to stand up against colonialism, culminating in the Asian-African Conference (KAA) in 1955 in Bandung. A year later, on March 2, 1956, Morocco successfully gained its independence from France. President Soekarno welcomed Morocco's independence by paying a state visit to this North African country. His visit marks the first foreign head of state to come to the newly independent Morocco. The King of Morocco memorialized this historical visit by naming one of the main streets in the city of Rabat after the first President of Indonesia, namely Syari' al-Rais Ahmed Soekarno, now Rue Soekarno. In addition, Morocco also eternalizes its friendships to Indonesia through the naming of other streets after Indonesia, Jakarta and Bandung.
Thirdly, Hasrul Azwar added, the friendship between Indonesia and Morocco is also clearly visible in consular policies between the two countries. King Mohammed V presented a special complement for Soekarno's visit in the form of visa exemptions for Indonesian citizens visiting Morocco. Amazingly, this privilege is still valid today. It is known that Indonesian citizens can visit Morocco without a visa for a period of three months or 90 days.
Fourthly, according to Hasrul Azwar, bilateral relations between Indonesia and Morocco are supported by several nodes of cultural ties and international cooperation. Apart from the majority of people in both countries being Muslim, Indonesian and Moroccan Muslims are also adherents of Ahlussunnah wal Jama'ah (Sunni Muslims). Both Indonesia and Morocco are members of the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and both countries are active in the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), a UNESCO-like organization initiated by Islamic countries.
Fifthly, Indonesia and Morocco have raised the status of bilateral relations to strategic partnership since December 2023. Ambassador Hasrul Azwar further explained that Indonesia's strategic position as one of the founders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is deemed significant in Morocco’s perspective. Since ASEAN's chairmanship in 2023, Indonesia fully supports Morocco as an ASEAN dialogue partner, on the other hand, Morocco has become an important hub for Indonesian products in efforts to penetrate African and European markets.