Unlike many nations in the Middle East, there is no historic church in Morocco. There are Moroccan Jews and Moroccan Muslims, but no official Moroccan Christians. The Church in Morocco remains an underground house church movement. Praise the Lord there are indeed Moroccan followers of Christ!
In August 2013 a Moroccan Christian, Mohamed El Baladi, was arrested and charged for proselytising and inducing Moroccan Muslims to convert to Christianity. With unusual speed, his case was taken to court a week later, with no legal representation secured for El Baladi , and he was sentenced to 2.5 yrs in prison and fined a large sum of money.
However, international public outcry and many people’s prayers resulted in El Baladi being released a month later from prison while he awaited his appeal court case in October. Interestingly, 11 Moroccan human rights lawyers turned up at the October appeal hearing. Human rights advocates say that his conviction and sentence violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human rights advocates were very public in their condemnation of El Baladi’s case, on radio and tv programs and in printed media.
Todd Daniels, International Christian Concern’s Middle East regional manager believes
the effective pressure from the human rights lawyers shows the importance of monitoring religious freedom: “The Moroccan government is sensitive about their international reputation, and so when they see that imprisoning someone simply because of their faith produces a response among the international media and draws government attention, it encourages them to allow for greater religious freedoms.”
But its more than just international intervention. I think its “a sign of the times” that Moroccan people (human rights advocates and lawyers included) are outspoken in their defence of Moroccans’ right to freedom of religion. Many Moroccans are pushing for greater freedoms. For the first time the Moroccan media has started referring to a “Christian minority” in Morocco. Is now the time for the Moroccan Church to start pushing for greater freedom? Can they ask for official recognition as Moroccan Christians?
How can we pray?
Let’s ask God to give the Church in Morocco wisdom, patience, perseverance, boldness, courage and discernment.
The outcome of El Baladi’s appeal case is expected on 6 February 2014. Let’s ask God for His intervention.