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Mohammed 6

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.

What is the King doing about the social unrest in Morocco?

Women’s demonstration Imzouren 2017, photo Mohamed El Asrihi

In recent years there have been protests in Morocco in various sectors and regions. People claim their share of the country’s wealth, such as fishing, phosphate and other raw materials that the country is rich in.

Africa’s largest silver mine
In Imidar the province of Tinghir there is the largest silver mine in Africa (seventh largest silver producer in the world). The local population doesn’t benefit from it, even worse, the mining company makes the lives of these people more difficult, it pollutes their drinking water and because the company consumes a lot of water, the people from the region have a water shortage. SMI (Société Métallurgique d’Imiter) is part of the Royal Holding Company and has been operating the Imider mine since 1978. This company did not hire people from the region as promised. In the last century, the people of the region have carried out various actions against the negative consequences of this mining operation. Since 2011 the people of Imider have founded a movement: On The Road ’96 -Imider, the purpose of this movement is to stand up for civil rights in Imider. The situation in the region has not changed for the time being.

Water shortage
Poor management and water scarcity are a very serious problem in Morocco, one of the causes of migration. In the southern Zagora region (Tazagurt) of 30,000 inhabitants, 700 kilometres from Rabat, people protested against water shortages in 2017, their protests were met with brutal violence and they were persecuted for participating in unauthorised demonstrations. The King’s response to the problems in Morocco is to build dams, but this has not yielded any results for the average Moroccan, nor does it provide a structural solution to these problems in the long term.

In the east of the country, in the Jerada area near the Algerian border, people also took to the streets after coal mines were closed in this area and people could no longer find work. These protests were also violently suppressed. There is a video in circulation of a boy, Abdelmoula Zaiker, who was deliberately chased by a police car, then hit and seriously injured, and who is now being treated in a hospital in Turkey. The driver of the police car was not even prosecuted.

Death of the fish merchant
In the Rif there were big protests after the death of the fish merchant Muhsin Fikri. These demonstrations were led mainly by young people; they demanded an honest investigation of the death of Muhsin Fikri under the motto: freedom, equality and social justice, they wanted to demonstrate peacefully in the whole Rif area. After six months, the government reacted to these protests by accusing them of being led, financed as separatist from abroad. Hereafter a great wave of arrests in the Rif, which has been a military area since 1958, began. So far, people have been arrested for waving the Rif flag, taking a photo of Abdelkrim Al Khattabi and criticizing the government.

During the large-scale demonstration in Al Hoceima on July 20, 2017, there was even one death, Imad El Attabi was probably killed by a bullet of the security forces during the peaceful demonstration: According to the Moroccan prosecution, an investigation was conducted into the death of this young Riffian, and neither his family nor the Riffians saw the results of the investigation.

The funeral of the activist Imad El Attabi and the death of others.
Many people attended the funeral of Imad El Attabi on August 9 in Al Hoceima, where they held a demonstration using tear gas from the Moroccan police. The Riffian Abdelhafid El Haddad had breathing difficulties and died on 18 August 2017. He left behind a wife and three children. According to several Riffian civilians, the Moroccan police used French tear gas, showing an expired use date.

Najim Abdouni was the chairman of a national “anti-corruption committee” and was familiar with major projects in Al Hoceima for which large sums of money were provided on paper but not or not fully implemented. He was also active in the Rif popular movement. On August 10, 2017, he was found outside his front door, seriously injured, and died the same day in hospital. The Moroccan judiciary had promised an investigation, but had not yet announced any results.

Imad El Attabi

The King takes action
In a speech in 2017, King Mohamed VI praised the violent actions of his police and portrayed them as victims of the Riffian demonstrators. His Interior Minister Abdelouafi Laftit confirmed in Parliament that the Moroccan police had smashed the doors of civilians in the Rif. There are several videos on social media that clearly show that the Moroccan police terrorized the Riffians in the middle of the night and raided their homes without a search warrant: Private property was destroyed and the doors of defenseless Riffian houses were broken open.

Leaving for Europe
Thousands of demonstrators were filmed by the Moroccan police and then arrested and intimidated; even women and minors have not escaped these human rights violations. There are also stories of Morocco deliberately leaving its international borders unguarded so that young people can flee. The asylum seekers and reception centres in Europe are full of Riffian young people, especially in the Spanish enclave of Melilla. According to the latest news from the Rif, entire families fled the country. A number of Riffians were granted asylum, for example the activist Achraf El Idrissi in Belgium, the lawyer Abdessadek El Bouchtaoui in France, the activist Basset Lamrini in Spain. This year, Nawal Benaissa and her child have applied for asylum in the Netherlands. It is not known whether their application was granted.

Mitigations of the King
As a measure against the social protests, Mohamed VI reintroduced compulsory military service in Morocco this year after it was abolished in 2007. As a second clear measure, King Mohammed says in his speech of 20 August that Morocco will work on the development of rural areas and the agricultural sector and that some 50 billion dirhams are reserved for the period 2016 — 2022. The king also explains that it is not important to have a university degree, but to have a job, and refers his subjects to practical training (vocational training) and manual work.

The number of unemployed graduates in Morocco is increasing, and this is a danger for the regime, as they claim their rights and draw the attention of the uneducated Moroccans to their rights. This is why Morocco is slowly phasing out “free” education. Both measures are in favour of the monarchy: The entry into military service ensures the influx of personnel for the police forces.
The development of the agricultural sector also benefited the Moroccan monarchy, as Morocco’s best farmland was in the hands of the royal family and other Moroccan families who worked with the Spanish and French occupiers between 1912 and 1956. For this reason, the agricultural sector in Morocco is completely exempt from taxation. The royal company is the country’s largest producer and exporter.

Source: https://amazighinformatiecentrum.medium.com/wat-doet-de-koning-aan-de-sociale-onrust-in-marokko-98bf7283b987
Translated by: Najat M

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