SANTA ANA, Calif. Since March, the intensity of persecution in Morocco has increased significantly.
Consider the following:
- The deportation of at least 128 foreign Christians, including almost half of them Americans, from Morocco
- An increase in interrogations and surveillance of Christian nationals
- A reported 7,000 Muslim leaders signing a document describing the work of Christians within Morocco as “moral rape” and “religious terrorism”
These developments in Morocco are alarming, but perhaps not so surprising to some Moroccan Christians. During a Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing on Capitol Hill last month, a Moroccan Christian who fled the country five years ago testified that Morocco has never been (moderate) as it portrayed it was.
“The fact is religious freedom in Morocco simply does not exist. The West is presented with a fade that is now exposed.” The government claims these Christian individuals are guilty of proselytizing, which is illegal in Morocco, but the government has failed to provide any evidence to substantiate the accusations.
Furthermore, 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.
Many of the deportees have lived in Morocco for a significant number of years as humanitarian workers, business professionals and teachers. Some also were deported after spending years working in an orphanage.
Not only has the Moroccan government cracked down on foreign Christians, but they have simultaneously increased pressure on national Christians. Compass Direct News estimates 1,000 Moroccan Christian converts within the country are not recognized by the government.
Open Doors has learned that increased persecution has made it very difficult for national believers to meet and worship together. 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. For this reason, it is imperative that Christians speak out on behalf of both groups.
Open Doors is launching a campaign asking Christians in the West to send a message to their U.S. representatives and senators, asking them to sign a Congressional letter sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA10). This letter 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.
Carl Moeller, president/CEO of Open Doors USA, says: “This is a situation where a number of our friends in Congress are taking a stand. If we can use the political power of the U.S. Congress to bring pressure on the Moroccan authorities, we want to go ahead and do that.”
Moeller also encourages prayer for the situation in Morocco, which ranks No. 37 on this year’s Open Doors World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians and whose population of 33 million is 99 percent Muslim.
Moeller asks that believers in the US:
1) Pray that the expelled Christians would have the opportunity to appeal their deportations and have fair trials so they can return to Morocco.
2) Pray that the Moroccan government will reduce pressure on national Christians and that these Christians would be strengthened in their faith during this difficult time.
3) Pray that the U.S. government will be willing to take the necessary action to pressure the Moroccan government to halt the deportations and increased surveillance and interrogations of national Christians.
An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world’s most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers.