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memri
August 30, 2017 No.
7073

Moroccan Weekly Attacks Local Christians: They Provoke Terrorism

On April 3, 2017, representatives of the recently-formed National Coordination of Moroccan Christians met with the chair of Morocco's National Human Rights Council (CNDH) to express their demand for full civil rights. Four days later they sent a letter to Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani in which they detailed their demands, including the freedom to worship openly in church, contract civil or Christian marriages, consecrate Christian cemeteries, give Christian names to their children, and be exempted from government-mandated Islamic instruction in school curricula.[1]  

Unlike foreign Christians, Moroccan Christians, whose number is estimated at several thousand[2] and many of whom are new converts to Christianity, do not currently enjoy these rights and are legally treated as Muslim. According to reports, they are forced to worship in secret churches located in private homes, and are often arrested and interrogated if they try to openly practice their faith.[3]

The National Coordination's initiative evoked a range of neutral, positive and negative reactions in Moroccan print and digital media.  Especially virulent was an article published May 6, 2017 in the popular Arabic-language newspaper Al-Ousboue Assahafi,[4] titled "Are Morocco's Christians Unaware of How ISIS Originated?" The article attacks and implicitly threatens the Christian activists, calling them "apostates... who prefer to be slaves of Christ instead of serving God and his Prophet," and noting ominously that "we all know the Koran requires the killing of apostates." It claims that ISIS arose in reaction to people like these Christians, and therefore that they cause "the spread of terrorism" in their homeland. It also condemns Moroccan clerics for "keeping silent about the phenomenon of apostasy and religious heresy that is spreading fast in Morocco due to the Church’s huge financial investment in spreading the Christian religion."

It should be mentioned that similar arguments were made in a May 11, 2017 article titled "Islam in Morocco is Threatened, O Commander of the Faithfull" by the weekly's owner, Mustapha Alaoui, a veteran journalist and author who is popularly referred to as the "dean of Moroccan journalists."[5] In this article he accused "Western publications and websites" of spreading missionary propaganda in Morocco,  and claimed that Moroccans who converted to Christianity, as well as atheists "whose ideas contradict even Christianity", are now campaigning for rights and "maligning Islam" amid the silence of Morocco's "weak" clerics. He warned darkly that "these conditions will lead to the appearance of angry groups bent on defending the honor of the Islamic faith in Morocco."

The following is an excerpt from the May 6 article.[6]

"The so-called 'National Coordination of Moroccan Christians' has appealed to the new prime minister, Saadeddine Othmani, asking him to expedite the granting of demands it had made to the secretary general of the National Human Rights Council regarding the provision of burial space for Moroccan Christians. We all know, however, that infidel Christian cemeteries already exist in Morocco. Therefore, Moroccan Christians should have written to their own Holy Man, the Pope, [rather than the Moroccan government] for permission to bury Moroccan apostates on the edges of Christian cemeteries in Morocco.

"We all know also that the Koran requires the killing of apostates. These [Moroccan Christian] apostates are the children of Muslims who disavowed the religion of their fathers and abandoned Islam in order to become Christians. These new Christians, who have appealed to the Commander of the Faithful [the King of Morocco] to grant them the right to apostasy, seem ignorant of the fact that ISIS arose as a reaction to Muslims who defied Muslim values [by leaving Islam]. We now see these Moroccans, born to [parents with names like] 'Fatima' and 'Mohammed,' declare their apostasy and their conversion to the Christian religion.

"It is a well-known fact, on the other hand, that Jews do not accept converts from Islam, because this is not allowed in the Jewish religion. [It must therefore be concluded that] anyone who gives up the religion of his forefathers to join a new one is merely an opportunist who is lured by the funds that the Christian Church dedicates to attracting Muslims.

"Morocco does not need more factionalism. The religious secession announced by this group of Church operatives who prefer to be slaves of Christ to serving God and his Prophet, is provoking the spread of terrorism. Unfortunately, the ulema [Muslim clerics], who are the guardians of the office of the Commander of the Faithful, have been silent about the phenomenon of apostasy and religious heresy that is spreading fast in Morocco because of the Church’s huge financial investment in spreading the Christian religion."

 

[1] Alyaoum24.com, April 4, 2017; febrayer.com, no date.

[2] State.gov/documents/organization/256493.pdf.

[3] Usnews.com, September 30, 2015.

[4] Founded in 1965, Al-Ousboue Assahafi is Morocco’s oldest nonpartisan Arabic-language news weekly. It is sold in Morocco and in France, and is very widely read in both paper and digital format; its Facebook page has over two million followers. Its reporting frequently takes a sensationalist tone.

[5] In 2013 Alaoui was hosted in a weekly show on France 24 featuring “notable Arab personalities” (France24.com, March 29, 2013). He has been criticized as being anti-Berber in some of his writings through the years. (See e.g., amazighworld.org/history/amazighophobia/morocco/malaoui/malaoui.php).

[vi] Alousboue.com, May 6, 2017.