In December of 2005 a Christian man in Morocco by the name of Jamaa Ait Bakrim was arrested for burning down two old, unused wooden posts outside of his home. Almost seven years later, he is still sitting behind bars in the country’s largest prison and still has another 8 years left on his sentence. Why is Jamaa spending more than a decade in jail for destroying a couple of old wooden posts?
Because Jamaa is a Christian who dared to be open about his faith in Christ in one of the strictest Muslim countries of North Africa. The destruction of the posts, which Jamaa had asked for permission to get rid of, was simply an excuse for local police to arrest a man who somehow resisted all of the pressure to hide his Christian beliefs. Most of Jamaa’s 15-years sentence is not for destruction of property, but for “proselytizing”, a crime in Morocco that is rigidly forbidden and punished.
Jamaa’s journey to Christ and his eventual sentencing began decades ago when he converted to Christianity in Europe in the early 1990s. Within a few years of returning to Morocco Jamaa was rejected by his family, forced into a mental institution, and sentenced to over a year in jail for having the audacity to put up a Christian cross in public.
Somehow undeterred Jamaa continued to be vocal about his faith until police finally found an excuse, the destruction of the wooden posts, to put Jamaa away for as long as possible.
Today, Jamaa needs your help. Without action it is likely that he will remain in prison for another 8 years, but outside pressure could be the key to securing his release. It will also send a message to the Moroccan government that it is unjust to imprison a man simply because he does not hide his faith. Lend your voice to ours, sign our petition and call for Jamaa’s immediate release.
Follow the instructions below and have your signatures back to us by Friday, October 26.
Here’s How You Can Help
#1 Pray: The first thing you can do to help is stop right now and ask the Lord to intervene on behalf of Jamaa.
#2 Next, review our petition.
#3 Electronically sign the petition by clicking here.
#4 Print out the petition and take it to your friends and church and have everyone you know sign it. Send it back to us so we can compile the responses.
Feel free to print out extra signature pages for large numbers of sign ups. When you have collected all your signatures, please mail the signature pages to:
PO Box 8056
Silver Spring, MD 20907
or fax them to us at (301) 585-5918
Please get them back to us by Friday, October 26.
Saturday was a day of celebration for Christians and religious rights advocates around the world. Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old Christian girl with mental disabilities, was flown to a secure location after spending nearly three weeks in jail on false blasphemy charges. And, Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani—who was to be executed for his conversion to Christianity—was finally freed. Our voices were heard and our prayers were answered.
We must not be fooled, however, in thinking the views of those who put Rimsha and Youcef in prison have changed. As one article headline put it: Rescue of Christian Girl May Be Turning Point in Abuse of Blasphemy Law. But, was this really a “turning point”? Or, do the oppressor’s motives remain the same, only to have succumbed this one time to international pressure?
In Pakistan, numerous Christians and other religious minorities, mainly Ahmadis, linger in prison for allegedly blaspheming Islam. Among them is Asia Bibi, a young Christian mother sentenced to death by hanging for blasphemy in November 2010. Two of her closest advocates, Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab, and Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s sole Christian cabinet minister, were assassinated for publicly opposing the laws that condemned her. Where is her justice?
In Iran, there are at least 16 Christians imprisoned for their faith, not to mention the hundreds of nameless Muslims that far outnumber Christians in the country’s jails for opposing the oppressive regime. Among them is Behnam Irani, a pastor suffering from stomach ulcers and being denied treatment. Where is his justice?
The release of two Christians last week was a great victory for the individuals and their families; in that we can rejoice. But, do not forget that thousands of prisoners of conscious, convicted for nothing more than their religious affiliation or political views, have yet to see justice.
When Christians rise up in defense of the persecuted Church, there is freedom. Your prayers, your advocacy, and your voices are heard. Please continue to be vigilant in prayer for Christians in Pakistan, Iran, and throughout the world who suffer discrimination, abuse, imprisonment, and even death for no other reason than following Jesus.
To support the persecuted church through assistance, advocacy, and awareness, visit Persecution.org. Sign our petitions to raise your voice for the persecuted Church.
We just want to say thanks to everyone who has already sent gifts to help the 10,000 displaced Ethiopian Christians. We’ve truly been blessed by your heart to help these suffering brothers and sisters! In addition to giving, you can also help these Ethiopian Christians by speaking out for justice on their behalf. We’ve launched a petition to ask for exactly this! It takes just minutes and will hopefully have a tremendous impact – Ethiopia receives millions of dollars in US aid and is usually quite responsive to this sort of pressure.
You can forward the link to this blog to your friends through the share icons below and ask your friends to sign, as well! You can also print the petition and collect signatures at your church, school, or other venue and mail them to us at:
International Christian Concern
PO Box 8056
Silver Spring, MD 20907