As world musicians tuned up in the ancient Moroccan town of Fez for a festival of religious music, political figures and thinkers debated ways to bring spiritual harmony to a globalised world.
Mohamed Kabbaj, president of the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music, said: "Globalisation has no meaning unless it has a soul, a universal collective vision that can give it a direction, that can act to transform the world."
Speaking in the gardens of the 19th-century Batha palace in Fez, he said that according to the Quran: "Harmony is the irrefutable proof of the existence of God and is the necessary link between man and society."
The 12th Fez festival, which opened on Friday, brings together spiritual and religious music from Syria, Iran, India, Mali, Latin America, Japan, Tibet, Azerbaijan and the Mediterranean under the theme of "harmonies".
The Fez Foundation that organises the festival says in its mission statement that one of its aims is to promote the historical holy city - noted for its Qaraouine university - as a centre of intercultural contact.
Fez claims a history of harmony between different cultures.
The theme of this year's festival
is harmonies *
Jews, Christians and Muslims lived side by side in the city after its founding in 789.
Since 2000, the festival has included a discussion forum called Fez Encounters, bringing together politicians, academics, religious leaders and social activists.
This year's forum aims to discuss matters such as poverty, spirituality and economics, and Islam and globalisation.
Politics and peace
Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, France's culture minister, attended Saturday's meeting in the Batha palace and spoke about the responsibilities of countries in the context of globalisation.
"In globalisation, respect for identities, cultures and religions is an essential factor of peace"
Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres
French culture minister
"The circulation of information also allows the circulation of barbarism," he said.
"That is why we must be mobilised and alert to see to it that all these sacred musics of the world, which are going to sound during this festival, should not be a moment of precarious harmony.
"The political powers of today's world must take on their full role and not yield to certain currents like fundamentalism, which together we must know how to fight against.
"In globalisation, respect for identities, cultures and religions is an essential factor of peace."
About 60 delegates from Morocco, France, Tunisia, the United States and Germany, plus Israelis and Palestinians, were expected to take part in the forum discussions.
William Christie, the French-American conductor, kicked off the festival on Friday evening with a performance by his Arts Florissants orchestra of works by composers including Mozart and Jean-Philippe Rameau.
Fez claims a history of harmony
between different cultures
The festival - which was recognised in 2001 by the United Nations as a major contributor to dialogue between civilisations - runs until June 10, ending with a concert by Salif Keita, a Malian musician.
Concerts will be held in the grounds of the palace, which now houses a museum, and the courtyard of the city's Bab Makina palace.
Free concerts are also due to take place on a public square.
*Photo courtesy of Remi Boissau - IF Fes-Meknes