Mr Wali, Mr Mohamed Mhidia, Mr Minister of Culture, Mr Bensalem Himmich, Mr Minister of Tourism and Crafts, Mr Yassir Zenagui, Mr President of the Marrakech region, Mr Ahmed Narjiss, Madam Mayor of Marrakech, Dear Fatima Mansouri,UNESCO Deputy Director-General for Culture, Dear Francis Bandarin,Ladies and Gentlemen,Dear Friends,

Just over a month ago, Marrakech was touched in its heart by
the pure expression of extreme violence. Moroccans lost their lives,
My thoughts are first and foremost with their families.

And yet I totally agree with the spirit that the Minister of Tourism has
the meeting that brings us together today. This celebration
of the ten years of the ranking of the Place Jemâa El Fna, to which you
did me the honor of inviting me, shows us all that violence
is not ready to silence the values of memory and dialogue

You know France’s commitment to preservation and
assets. With respect to the portion of our
The World Heritage List of the World Heritage of
UNESCO, we have just strengthened our commitments in
follow-up of applications, development of sites,
in a more sustainable development approach.

As far as intangible heritage is concerned, I would like first of all to
remind myself that this is a concept to which I am very
attached, and the spur of recognition that can represent a
World Heritage Classification often gives us the opportunity to open
new perspectives to better showcase it – I think by
example to all the attention we had to pay to the constitution of the
application for the French Gastronomic Meal, which
the honour of receiving this recognition. Mr. Francesco Bandarin
know, we are working closely with UNESCO bodies to
contribute as best as possible to the joint reflection on the means of
to better preserve and present a heritage that
intangibility is not a guarantee of immunity against erosion
and disappearance.

The Moroccan authorities, I know, fully share this demand.

And it is precisely because we share it that makes the quality of
our cooperation in the field of heritage. France is also
always very happy, I would even say enthusiastic about the
Morocco, to be able to lend its expertise when requested by others
States Parties to the 2003 Convention on Intangible Heritage – with
the same enthusiasm as the president, Mr. Minister of Culture,
our cooperation in the field of museums and
material heritage.

International commitments on the intangible heritage of humanity
in Marrakesh. This is in fact right here, at a meeting
of international experts in 1997,
from intangible heritage to the more blurred, dated culture
traditional and popular». It was in Marrakech that this new
approach which was to lead to the launch of the programme the following year
the proclamation of masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of
up to the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the
Intangible Cultural Heritage 2003.

Before I go to Ms. Mansouri, who knows better than anyone
the importance of the oral and intangible heritage of Jemâa El Fna Square,
would like to discuss with you, as French Minister of
Culture, that your magnique city is also the bearer of the memory of
all the great figures of art and the great foreign artists who have
Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé
I think of Alfred Hitchcock who filmed himself from the back in The Man who
knew too much, watching the show of the acrobats of the Place
Jemâa El Fna. Marrakech has become from this point of view a world city,
where heritage and modernity intersect, where the spirit of the

On this anniversary date, I would like to use the same words
of the one who did so much for the heritage of Marrakech, also in his memory,
I mean Juan Goytisolo, who was able to penetrate the spirit of a place
unique in the world, from a place marked since its creation, there is almost a
the seal of encounter and exchange:
«This universe of second-hand dealers and water carriers, artisans and beggars,
horse-traders and thugs, crooks with silky hands, simple
women of small virtue, of strong mouths, of young men, of
resourceful people, quacks, cartomancians, tartufes, doctors
science infused, all this colorful, open and carefree world, which
gave life to Christian and Islamic societies - many
less differentiated than one might think -, at the time of the
Hita, was suppressed little by little, or radically, by the bourgeoisie
and the quadrilleur state of cities and lives (…) Only one city
preserves the privilege of housing the deceased oral heritage of humanity,
with scorn of the Third World. I mean
Marrakech, and Jemaa-el-Fna Square, on the outskirts of which, since
more than twenty years and at regular intervals, I write, I wander and I live.
In Jemaa-el-Fna, jugglers, entertainers, clowns, storytellers
are almost as numerous, and of a quality just as great as
when I arrived in Marrakech, or when Elias Canetti visited there
which would leave a trace so fruitful, or even at the time when the brothers
Jerome and Jean Tharaud wrote their travel account, that is
sixty years earlier. If we compare its current appearance with the photos
taken at the beginning of the protectorate, we discover very few differences:
a few more compact, albeit discrete buildings; an increase
traffic; the staggering proliferation of bicycles. But these are the
the same eddies, the same fiacres; groups of horse-traders mingle
always at the circles that form around the storytellers, in the smoke
The Koutoubia minaret and the Koutoubia minaret
the kingdom of the dead and the busy existence of the

Jemaa-el-Fna resists the combined assaults of time and modernity
degradation and bounded. The halcas continue to thrive, new
talents are revealed, and an audience still as fond of stories makes circle
around jugglers and artists. Thanks to its incredible vitality and its
digestive abilities, it agglutinates the most diverse elements, it abolishes
class differences and hierarchies. Buses
loaded with tourists who come to fail there like cetaceans are
immediately caught in its thin spider web, and neutralized by its
gastric juices. This year, during the nights of Ramadan, the square
attracted tens of thousands of people around its kitchens
among the cries of the sellers of shoes, clothes, and
treats and toys. In the light of the kerosene lamps, I noticed
the presence of Rabelais, the archpriest of Hita, Chaucer, Ibn Zaid,
and many dervishes. In this still preserved space,
we don’t see these idiots snogging their cell phones. The brilliance and
the incandescence of the verb miraculously prolong his reign. But I
sometimes trembles thinking how vulnerable she is, and I feel her rise
my lips this question that sums up all my fears: until

Juan Goytisolo said these words in 1997. They have lost nothing of
its scope, so much the magic of Jema El Fna still exists; so much its call,
also, vigilance for the preservation of its character
unique, remains current.

Thank you.