Dispatches > News
Abdelhak Senna/AFP/Getty Images

Strained friendship

Moroccan crackdown against Christians continues; Capitol Hill scrutiny underway

Issue: "Gulf toil," June 5, 2010

Less than six weeks after the Moroccan ambassador to the United States insisted that his country's government wasn't cracking down on foreign Christians-despite a rash of March deportations-the Moroccan government asked more foreign Christians to leave in May.
U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., told House members that Moroccan officials delivered deportation notices to 10 foreigners in the second week of May. International Christian Concern (ICC)-a D.C.-based group-reported that the African nation had notified 23 foreigners of expulsion orders since May 10. The group reported that the expelled foreigners included Christians and that government officials accused the foreigners of proselytizing-a crime in Morocco
Wolf said the expulsions "call into question the long-standing friendship" between the United States and the historically progressive Islamic nation, and said he would co-chair a House hearing on religious freedom in Morocco on June 17.
In a letter to Wolf, Taib Fassi Fihri, a representative of the king of Morocco, said the deportations that began in March-and included 16 foreign Christians working at the Village of Hope orphanage-"solely and exclusively targeted proselytism activities." The official said the deportations followed investigations and formal complaints by "parents and close relatives of the children concerned." But a handful of deported foreign Christians told me that they had no formal ties with the orphanage and had conducted no work with Moroccan children.
While some foreign Christians leave, trouble may be brewing for Moroccan Christians who stay behind. Some deported foreigners said Moroccan Christians reported that Moroccan authorities were harassing and following them. An ICC report confirms some of the fears among Moroccan Christians-a tiny minority. The group reported correspondence from a Moroccan pastor near Marrakech. "We have stopped all worship activity," the pastor said. "We are afraid they will attack us if we are in meetings, so there is no meeting."
Email: jdean@worldmag.com

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Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

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