- North Africa
- Religion - Governance
Morocco: Reactions over expulsion of foreigners continue
The expulsion last week of a group of foreign workers for "religious proselytism" at the Village of Hope, an orphanage situated near Ain Leuh, continues to arouse reactions over the real intentions of the Moroccan government which claims to be engaged in the fight against all “attempts to affect the moral and religious” values of the Kingdom.
Foreign workers and leaders of the Village of Hope (VOH), a Christian orphanage near Ain Leuh, expelled last week from Morocco for “Christian proselytism”, continue to plead their innocence. Moroccan authorities claim, however, that their act is in accordance with the law and also in compliance with legal procedures which consider the foreigners’ activity as an offence to the Muslim faith.
Despite the expelled workers having refuted the Moroccan authorities’ claims of “fight against proselytism” saying it is a calculated move on their part especially because VOH had never hidden its Christian ethos from them in their ten years of operation as a group that fosters abandoned children, the local media has moved to back their government’s claims.
The issue of Christian evangelisation has indeed been met with hostility not only in the Moroccan kingdom but also in north African countries where governments tend to defend the Islamic faith religiously.
Some Moroccan sources have indicated that the Kingdom is facing an “attempted penetration by some evangelical organisations”. According to them, the majority of the evangelisations are more often than not detected, monitored and recorded by the authorities.
Local reports have indicated that many doubt the real intentions of the members of the Village of Hope in Morocco, a country whose social organisation is mainly founded in the Islamic faith.
Meanwhile, Moroccan authorities have maintained their readiness to firmly defend the “religious values” of the Kingdom while reiterating their total refusal to accept evangelisation campaigns claiming they are in total contradiction with local ancestral values.
Moroccan official sources confirm the identification of about "36 proselytising evangelical groups" operating in the country. According to them, the evangelists consist of some 202 missionaries, most of whom are from the United States, the United Kingdom and France.
The officials also claim that the missionaries are made up of several foreign professionals, including priests and teachers working under cooperation agreements, engineers working for multinational companies operating in the country, as well as doctors and entrepreneurs.
According to analysis from Moroccan government officials, the "young and unemployed" are the main targets of "proselytising campaigns". They also claim that regular private meetings seeking a "consolidation of the Christian faith” are organised in some localities in the kingdom.
Other sources estimate that some 363 Moroccans have allegedly converted to Christianity and are seeking to take the reins of evangelical networks in the northern African country.
Conversions from Islam to other faiths are forbidden by law in the whole of north Africa, where the main religion remains Islam with the exception of a few isolated cases. Conversion from other religions to Islam is, however, encouraged.