Campaign Launched to Halt Deportation of Christians in Morocco
ICC Note: Christian Post article discusses latest effort to counteract Morocco deportations
By Aaron J. Leichman
7/23/10 Morocco (ChristianPost) – A campaign is being launched to mobilize Christians in the West in rallying their U.S. representatives and senators behind an effort to stop Morocco’s deportation of Christians.
For the campaign, the Christian ministry Open Doors is urging believers to send a message to their U.S. representatives and senators, asking them to sign a Congressional letter sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.).
The letter, addressed to the king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, requests that the government stop all deportations and allow those who have been deported be allowed to return to Morocco.
Since March, observers have reported a significant increase in the intensity of persecution in Morocco as well as the deportation of at least 128 foreign Christians.
Though the government claims the deported Christians are guilty of proselytizing – which is illegal in Morocco – persecution watchdog groups say the government has failed to provide any evidence to substantiate the accusations.
Furthermore, they say the Moroccan government did not follow due process of law in the deportations and denied court hearings to all of those deported.
“Most of these individuals were expelled from the country without the opportunity to set their affairs in order, say goodbye to friends and family, or even to gather their belongings,” reported Open Doors, which ministers to persecuted Christians.
In addition to the deportations, pressure on Christian nationals has reportedly increased, making it “very difficult” for them to meet and worship together.
Although 99 percent of its population is Muslim, Morocco has historically tolerated Christianity among both its nationals and its expatriates. According to the U.S. State Department’s most recent report on international religious freedom, Morocco’s constitution provides for the freedom to practice one’s religion and non-Muslim foreign communities openly practice their faiths.
The government has been noted, however, for restricting non-Islamic religious materials and proselytizing as well as placing some restrictions on individuals and organizations “when it deems their actions to have exceeded the bounds of acceptable religious or political activity.”
But critics say Morocco is not as moderate as it portrays itself, with some going as far as saying it never has been.
“The fact is religious freedom in Morocco simply does not exist,” a Moroccan Christian who fled the country five years ago testified last month during a Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing on Capitol Hill.
“The West is presented with a façade that is now exposed,” he added.
In announcing its campaign, Open Doors said it “appears the Moroccan government is intent on ridding the nation of all Christian influence.”
“If not challenged on the deportations of foreign Christians, the government may perceive that Christians worldwide will turn a blind eye to increased persecution of national Christians,” the ministry stated. “For this reason, it is imperative that Christians speak out on behalf of both groups.”