A group of Christians who had kept their faith hidden for up to 20 years are speaking out, demanding religious freedom in order to worship based on their faith. Mustapha became a Christian in 1994, but kept his faith secret because Islam is Morocco’s state religion. Once he publically declared his faith, he was persecuted. Now, Christians are banding together and demanding that the state uphold the Constitution which grants religious freedom.
2017-05-07 Morocco (The Gospel Herald) – Christians in Morocco, where the state religion is Islam, are speaking out and demanding the right to freely worship according to their faith.
“We demand the right to give our children Christian names, to pray in churches, to be buried in Christian cemeteries and to marry according to our religion,” Mustapha, who converted to Christianity in 1994, told AFP.
He, together with other former Muslims who have embraced Christianity, wrote a request to the official National Council of Human Rights to end the persecution of Christians in Morocco.
Christianity is a religious minority in the country. Muslims comprise 99.6 percent of the Moroccan population, while evangelical Christians only make up 0.4 percent and professing Christians 0.2 percent, according to the Joshua Project. A tiny fraction of the population are Jewish.
However, even though the state religion is Islam, Morocco’s 2011 Constitution allows for freedom of religion. The authorities claim to practice only a moderate form of Islam that leaves room for religious tolerance. Yet, in reality, Moroccan Christians still suffer from persecution.
For two decades, Mustapha kept his faith in Christ secret. He said he first got attracted to the Christian faith because he got “tired of the contradictions of Islam” and he was looking for something to “fill a spiritual void.”
Eventually, he got connected with a religious group in Spain, with whom he maintained correspondence. He became a Christian and began to study courses through distance learning programs from the U.S., qualifying him to become a pastor.