New Details Emerge on Imprisoned Moroccan Christian
ICC Note: Morocco violates international agreement
7/20/10 Morocco (ICC)–International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned new information about Jamaa Ait Bakrim, a Moroccan Christian who has been imprisoned for his faith since 2005. New information has been translated, including interviews with a childhood friend and a businessman from his town.
On June 17, ICC issued a press release covering the basic information: Jamaa (prisoner number 26574) was imprisoned in 2005 for his faith and is currently in Prison Centrale, located in Kenitra, Morocco. The bulk of Jamaa’s 15 year sentence came from the “destruction of the goods of others.” In actuality Jamaa burned two unused wooden posts that were blocking access to his house. He requested permission from local authorities and heard nothing until his arrest. “Fifteen years for two abandoned posts, it is scandalous. Jamaa presented a serious problem for the authorities. He displayed his convictions in broad daylight and it is for this reason he underwent a crackdown,” stated a professor who had known Jamaa since childhood.
“Jamaa is a Christian who is convinced of what he believes, he is far from being mad,” said a businessman who knew Jamaa before he was arrested. “The business of two burnt posts gave the authorities an excuse to rid their city of a man they hated.”
< Extensive Details and pictures of Jamaa have been posted at ICC’s new Prisoner Focus page, located at www.www.persecution.org/prisonerfocus >
Jamaa’s case has recently come to the attention of the US Congress. In a June 17 Congressional hearing on “Human Rights and Religious Freedom in Morocco,” Jamaa was referenced by Congressman Frank Wolf (VA-10) and Senator James Inhofe (OK-R) as an example of the ongoing persecution of Christians in Morocco.
Morocco is bound to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which it ratified on March 27, 1979. Article 18 of the ICCPR states that everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including the freedom to change their religion. This freedom includes the right to manifest the individual’s belief in public or private.
ICC’s Regional Manager, Logan Maurer, stated, “The sentence Jamaa is serving is in blatant contradiction to international law agreed to by Morocco. This is the first time Jamaa Ait Bakrim’s case has been able to get out to the west and I am hopeful it signals the beginning of an effort that will bring freedom for Jamaa. He has already served five years for ‘destroying’ two unused electric poles; it is time Morocco be held accountable for the façade they have used to unjustly imprison a man for his faith.