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.
Right now, as I write this, there are 35 men and women sitting in a jail in Saudi Arabia for committing a “crime” that, not only is nonexistent in most countries, is not even on the books in Saudi Arabia. A little more than four months ago, these 35 men and women gathered together for a prayer meeting in a private residence and emerged to find the Saudi “religious police” waiting to arrest them.
They were accused of “illicit mingling” between genders, which as I mentioned, is not codified in Saudi law. But no one is really fooled by the official explanation. The fact is, the men and women arrested are Christians and they were arrested for having the audacity to hold a prayer meeting.
Since their arrest, they have faced everything from strip searches to violent interrogations. They have been accused of being “unbelievers” and pressured to convert to Islam. Worst of all, they do not know when or if they will be released. This completely flies in the face of official Saudi policy, which is supposedly to respect the private worship practices of all faiths.
Next week, ICC is going to Capitol Hill, the State Department, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in order to draw some attention to this case. Over the course of three straight days we will be meeting with at least two dozen congressional offices, explaining what took place, and asking for senators and congressmen to start exerting serious pressure on the Saudi Arabian government to respect basic human rights, like the right to worship according to the faith of your own choosing.
In the past, we have seen Christians set free after advocating on their behalf, so join us in prayer as we go to our nation’s leaders and speak up for the Christians who can’t.