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Morocco expels foreign Christians

May 2010 | by Christine McLaren

Morocco expels foreign Christians

 

He was on his way to visit a Moroccan believer when two men approached him in the street. After seeing their identification, Tom (not his real name) agreed to go with the plain clothes policemen.

     Tom managed to text his wife en-route to a Moroccan police station where he answered questions and was detained for six hours. The next day Tom was escorted to the airport and deported, leaving behind 15 years of life, language study and a deep connection with the emerging Moroccan church.

    

Expulsions

 

Since 6 March 2010, 40 foreigners of eight nationalities have been deported or denied entry from various locations in Morocco. Tom is one of them. None were given a reason, but the Moroccan government publicly explained that these foreigners were guilty of proselytising, according to Middle East Concern. At least another dozen have been refused re-entry.

     A Moroccan newspaper claimed that these expulsions sent a strong message to resist attempts to undermine the moral and religious values of Morocco (Aujourd’hui, 12 March 2010).

     Arab World Ministries personnel report that in March 2009, police raided a women’s Bible study in Casablanca and expelled five foreigners. In November 2009, Moroccan police raided a Christian meeting in the north and sent another five foreigners out of Morocco. In January 2010, police raided a Christian meeting south of Morocco and expelled the visiting speaker.

     The most high profile expulsions have been the foreign Christians associated with an orphanage in Ain Leuh. At this orphanage, foreign Christians had been fostering abandoned children for 10 years.

    

Preparation

 

The children were removed from their care and the foreigners expelled, although the orphanage had been open about their Christian ethos, and volunteers had not shared their faith in any way contrary to the law (Arab World Ministries).

     While some Moroccan Christians have been questioned, the emphasis so far has been on foreign Christians. There are approximately 1000-3000 Moroccan Christians in the country.

     Shortly before his expulsion Tom began to observe a change in the Moroccan church. He recounted that some Moroccans had taken the initiative to plan days away for Christian teaching, without the involvement of foreigners like Tom. He said that, due to the hassling of foreign Christians and expulsion of some, the Moroccans had decided to meet on their own.

     Tom was pleased that the Moroccan believers seemed to have turned a corner and are beginning to take more responsibility in ministry. If the expulsions continue, they will be doing church separately from their foreign brothers and sisters. While foreign Christians are free to meet in churches, the same option is not available for Moroccans.

    

Bias

 

Christians, whether Moroccan or foreign, are not allowed to try to share their faith with a Muslim, although Muslims are free to seek to change the faith of Christians. In a statement issued in Spain, on 7 March, at a Morocco-European Union conference, Morocco’s prime minister stated that Morocco has a ‘respect for and protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms’ (Middle East Concern, 12 March 2010), yet this does not play out in practice.

     Pray that Morocco would see fit to honour its professed high regard for human rights, and that this would result in more freedom for the Moroccan church, whether there are foreigners in the country to help or not.

     Please pray for the reversal of the decision to expel Christian foster parents from the orphanage, and that God would bring peace to the upset children.

     Pray for the expelled workers to see God’s hand in these difficult circumstances. Petition the Lord to move in the hearts of Morocco’s leaders and bring about an end to this action. Pray especially for King Mohammed VI, and the justice and interior ministers.

 

Christine McLaren

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Morocco