Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Morocco Expels 50 Christians; US Government and Religious Group Protest

Morocco last month expelled around 50 Christians accused of proselytizing Muslims in violation of Moroccan law. (Moroccan authorities say the number was 27.) UAE's The National today reports that the expulsions include 16 staffers at the Village of Hope who were accused of using foster care as a cover for converting Moroccan children to Christianity. The Minneapolis Star Tribune yesterday reported that the expulsions targeted other foreign-run orphanages as well. The issue seems to be informal influence on the children by the Christian foster families, even though the children are formally taught the Qur'an in schools operated by the orphanages.

U.S. Ambassador to Morocco, Sam Kaplan, has urged that the aid workers be given due process rights. Kaplan is one of the few Jewish diplomats representing the U.S. in Arab countries. Morocco has a long tradition of tolerance of Jews and Christians, but the evangelical community sees the expulsions as a political gesture to Islamic fundamentalists. Nationals of Britain, Netherlands and South Korea were also expelled. Politicians and the media in the Netherlands also protested strongly. (Morocco Board News Service 3/10). [Correction.] Meanwhile, leaders of the Evangelical Church Alliance International met with the Ambassador of Morocco at the Moroccan Embassy in Washington, D.C. An Alliance press release reports they urged Morocco to adopt a clear definition of "proselytizing" to guide foreign Christians. It concludes that: "It was the consensus of the Evangelical leaders present that the Moroccan government understands our concerns and also wishes to strengthen the bonds of friendship that exist between us and to seek new and productive ways to keep the established bridges intact."