The government of Morocco has notified another 23 mostly Christian foreigners, including one American, that they’re scheduled for imminent expulsion from the North African country.
And an analyst says that those targeted by the deportation order indicate the government of Morocco, which historically has been considered a moderate Muslim nation, now is fearful that Muslims will convert if exposed to Christianity.
This is the second large deportation action taken by the Moroccan government against mostly Christian individuals in the past two months. More than 40 Christian workers were deported from Morocco in March.
Aidan Clay of International Christian Concern says the North African nation simply is alarmed about the possibility that Muslims may see an opportunity to leave Islam.
“The reason they received these notices is that they allegedly broke Morocco’s anti-proselytizing laws. This is the same reason for the deportations in March,” Clay told WND.
“This goes way beyond anti-proselytizing. It’s basically anti-conversion. The thinking there is if there is no proselytizing, no one will convert from Islam,” Clay explained. “But upholding these laws directly violates the fundamental religious freedoms of the Moroccan people.”
Clay said the U.S. government is hesitating to confront the Moroccan government.
“Some people in the United States government don’t want to confront the Moroccan government. They say, ‘If we confront the Moroccan government with this, we’re not going to get anywhere. They’re not going to listen to us,’” Clay said.
But that feeling isn’t universal yet.
Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., has made issues of human rights and human trafficking part of his concern.
Speaking on the House floor last week, Wolf called on the Moroccan government to live up to its stated commitment to religious freedom.
“I call on the government of Morocco to uphold its commitment to the principles of religious tolerance and freedom, that for so long, made it a model of tolerance and modernity in the Arab world,” he said.
“And I call on our embassy, the State Department and the White House to raise this issue with Moroccan authorities at the highest levels, and defend the interests and rights of these American citizens … whose lives have been shattered by these events,” Wolf said.
Wolf’s spokesman, Dan Scandling, said the congressman believes the new round of deportations is “disconcerting.”
“I don’t think anyone has a firm answer as to why they’re doing it, but it is
certainly a step backwards. That’s why the congressman made a statement on the floor of the House last week and is going to have a hearing in June on Capitol Hill with the Human Rights Commission. He wants to find out just what’s going on and to get to the bottom of it,” Scandling said.
Scandling wouldn’t say directly that the expulsions were because of proselytizing.
“You’re hearing that that’s the reason they’re being kicked out. Some of these people have been there a number of years and haven’t had any issues. It’s raising some eyebrows here and that’s why the congressman is raising some of the questions he’s raising,” Scandling said.
However, Clay said the government in Morocco specifically is targeting Christianity.
“It’s a method to try and ensure that Morocco remains a majority Muslim country. We’ve seen in North Africa in Algeria with the Berber community. There are large numbers of Muslim Berbers converting to Christianity. It’s so substantial that the Algerian government hasn’t been able to control it,” Clay said.
“It’s out of their ability to control, but Morocco is seeing the same thing and they’re seeing the strength of the Moroccan church movement. They’re seeing Muslims converting to Christianity and this move is to put an end to the spread of Christianity in Morocco,” Clay said.
Clay added that the list of upcoming deportees includes Europeans from the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Spain and the Netherlands. The deportees also include people from Canada, New Zealand and South Korea.
There is no word on when the 23 persons notified will be ordered to leave Morocco.
WorldNetDaily reported in March that Christians were being detained in several Moroccan cities and some had been jailed pending their deportations.
A witness to the crackdown, who asked to be identified as Brother D, told WND at that time believers were being detained in several cities and some of them had spent overnight in jails.
Christian work has been ongoing in Morocco for nearly 100 years, a nation under Islamic influences for more than 1,000 years.
According to a report from Mission Network News, the deportation move had been building for weeks.
In the report, Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs said Morocco’s new minister of justice, Mohamed Naciri, was believed to be responsible for the crackdown.
“It’s unclear if simply this new minister of justice is a more devout or more radical Muslim and wants to come against the apostasy movement, encouraging Muslims to leave Islam and follow Jesus Christ and we just don’t know that much about the why right now,” he told MNN.
Morocco has been dominated by Islamic interests since the 600s, when Arab Muslims moved into the region. In 711, the Berber chief, Tariq Iban Zyad, arrived in conquest of the area. Shortly later, Muslim control was consolidated.
The constitution provides for a monarchy with a parliament and an independent judiciary.
The embassy website boasts that King Mohammed VI is directly descended from the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, through his daughter Lalla Fatima Zohra.