Right to religious freedom under fire in Morocco
By Mohamed Amezian
12/9/2009 Morocco (RNW) – A group of five foreigners, was arrested last week in Morocco on suspicion of proselytising. The Christian missionaries – two South Africans, two Swiss and one Guatemalan – were expelled from the country for holding “undeclared meetings”, said police. This is not the first such incident. Proselytising (attempting to change someone’s religious or political beliefs) is a crime in Morocco, even though the constitution guarantees individual freedom.
Professor Mohamed Darif has found that Morocco not only penalises missionary zeal, but also has a long history of punishing Moroccan citizens for changing their religious beliefs. In the 1960s and 1980s a number of converts to the Bahá’í faith was convicted. Morocco recently broke off diplomatic relations with Iran because of its alleged “spreading of the Shiite doctrine” among Moroccans. The government denies it wants to limit individual freedoms, and says it only wants to safeguard “social cohesion”.