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Freedom of religion and belief in Morocco

©Hanan Isachar

The King of Morocco, Muhammad VI, ordered his ambassador in France to donate money for the reconstruction of Notre Dame in April 2019: “At the very high instruction of King Muhammad VI, the Kingdom of Morocco will contribute financially to the reconstruction of Notre Dame in Paris”. The Twitter post of the Moroccan embassy in France has announced. Officially no specific amount was mentioned, but on social media an amount of 200 million dollars has been circulating.

Ahmed Younes

The Riffian journalist Ahmed Younes commented on Morocco’s donation on Facebook: ‘The Notre-Dame Cathedral contains works of art that France has stolen from North Africa’. The journalist does not reveal any details of the French art theft.

North Africa has a Christian history, as the philosopher and church father Augustine of Hippo was born in present-day Algeria.

Moroccans who converted to Christianity were not allowed to enter the churches in Morocco. These churches, which usually date from colonial times, are only meant for non-Moroccans.

The American Department of State estimates the number of Moroccan Christians at more than 40,000. The American think tank and opinion research agency, Pew Research Center, estimates the number at 20,000.

Brother Ali

Choosing between work and religion

A young Moroccan named Brother Ali* grew up in a Moroccan Muslim family. He went to work for the Moroccan gendarmerie and became a member of a unit in charge of securing the king and his family. He converted to the Christian faith, when his employer found out he was transferred to a barracks in Rabat with no function. Then a wave of intimidation began, forcing him to resign from the gendarmerie.

Every Moroccan is a Muslim

According to Moroccan law, all Moroccans but a small Jewish minority are Muslims. Any attempt to convert a Muslim is illegal. Article 220 of the Moroccan Penal Code says that “anyone who uses incitement to separate a Muslim from his religion or to convert him to another religion may be punished with 3 to 6 months’ imprisonment and a fine of 200 to 500 dirhams.”

Jamaa Ait Bakrim (1964), a Moroccan convert, received a bachelor’s degree in political science. In the last century he fled to Europe and applied for asylum in the Netherlands, but that was rejected. In 1993 he returned to Morocco. He did not keep his new religion secret and this caused him problems with the authorities, he was sentenced to seven months in prison. He was then placed in a psychiatric hospital.
In the islamic countries everyone who distances himself from the islam is portrayed as a psychiatric patient.

Jamaa Ait Bakrim

5 years imprisonment

Jamaa Ait Bakrim was convicted for the second time and was imprisoned for a year. After serving his prison sentence, he set fire to two wooden electricity poles in 2005, because they had been out of use for a long time and blocked the entrance to his business. He had often asked the municipality to remove the poles, but without success. So Ait Bakrim cleaned them up himself, but that was a criminal offence. Add to that the fact that Ait Bakrim spoke honestly about his faith. Jamaa Ait Bakrim was sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment by the court.

Pope’s visit without results

Known Moroccan convert is Brother Rachid, the author of the book The Ideology Behind Islamic Terrorism 2018, he is also a TV program maker. In a video message on his Youtube channel, he comments on the Pope’s visit to Morocco on 30 and 31 March 2019: “We Moroccan Christians are very disappointed in the King of Morocco who, in his speech in the presence of the Pope, said that he is the leader of the faithful, including Jews and foreign Christians who are in Morocco”. [not of the Moroccan convert].

Brother Rachid

Brother Rachid wonders why Moroccan Christians were not allowed into Moroccan churches, why they have to marry according to Islamic rituals, why they are obliged to follow Islamic education, why they have to bury their dead in an Islamic way.

King Mohammed VI gave a speech during the pope’s visit in four languages (not in Tamazight, the mother tongue of Moroccans, which was only recognized as an official language in 2011), Rachid called on the king to speak in another language: the language of human rights.

Death penalty chases non-Muslims

The High Council of Moroccan Ulema’s (Islamic legal scholars) issued a fatwa in 2012 that makes it possible to execute people who have formally distanced themselves from Islam. Muslims from movements other than those of the state can also be considered apostates: for example the Ibadites, the Ahmadi-Muslims and the Shiites.

Monarchy is based on Islam

The Moroccan monarchy derives its legitimacy from the state Islam established by France during the official occupation of Morocco between 1912 and 1956. The position of the king is enshrined in the constitution, so it is not allowed to criticise the king and his family.

The king was presented in Morocco as the deputy to God on earth. With the title of leader of the faithful, he forced the entire people into submission. Even if he uses violence against his subjects, they are not allowed to distance themselves from him, for this there are texts in the Koran that justify all this

*Interview in which Brother Ali had made his revelations (Arabic)


Translation: Najat M.


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