What does persecution look like in Morocco?
Despite the growing Western influence on Moroccan society, 99% of the population are Muslim and the country remains socially conservative. This can make life challenging for the tiny Christian minority, particularly those who convert from Islam. They will likely encounter severe pressure from their family and local community to recant their faith, and must meet in house churches because they cannot get permission and official recognition to gather in public.
Although conversion is not a punishable offence legally, converts risk being arrested and interrogated by the government, with the country’s strong and well-informed security services making it very difficult for believers to express their faith. This hostility largely stems from Christianity being seen as a threat to the king and his authority, which is derived from the claim that the king is a direct descendant of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. Another reason could be the fear of radical Muslim groups; by appeasing them, the authorities want to prevent any unrest.
The government’s paranoia explains why it is forbidden to "shake the faith of a Muslim," meaning that Christians who talk about their faith risk arrest and criminal prosecution. Distribution of Christian resources in Arabic (including Bibles) is also restricted. Even on social media, believers must be very careful in what they post, and if they post Christian content, most use a pseudonym.
Expatriate Christians are relatively free to meet and worship, although they are often under surveillance and risk deportation if found to be sharing their faith with Muslims.
The Islamic population in rural areas is known to be conservative. Most incidents of persecution occur in the northeast of the country, the Atlas Mountains in the east and the southeastern desert area. Most converts live in urban areas, where it is easier to escape the pressures that come with choosing to follow Jesus.
“My father kicked me out of the house. He said that I betrayed our culture, that I was no longer his daughter. It broke my heart. He made me feel like a bad girl."Aizah, from North Africa
What has changed this year?
Last summer, an earthquake devastated villages in the High Atlas Mountains south of Marrakech. It killed almost 3,000 people and affected around 300,000, with Christians among those who lost loved ones.
In good news, despite the pressures that continue to be keenly felt by our sisters and brothers in Morocco, the rise in internet and social media usage means that many converts to Christianity are finding fellowship, despite being geographically isolated, and seekers are discovering about Jesus and coming to know Him! This is often accompanied by dreams, showing that despite the authorities' active attempts to control the spread of Christianity, the Holy Spirit will always find ways to reach people.
Open Doors works with local partners and churches in North Africa to provide leadership and discipleship training, livelihood support, legal aid, trauma counselling, Bibles and pastoral care.
- Please pray that Christians will be given opportunity and ingenuity as they seek to share their faith, despite the dangers.
- Pray that believers from Muslim backgrounds will be empowered to stand firm amid hostility from their community.
- Ask that Jesus will increasingly reveal Himself to people in Morocco through dreams and visions.
Lord Jesus, continue to empower our sisters and brothers as they face many challenges for following You. May they feel Your nearness when they need it most. Provide fresh opportunities for believers to talk about You with others, and give them boldness and the right words in those moments. Heal those carrying wounds from mistreatment, and provide for those whose faith has brought loss of income or security. Thank You that believers are finding ways to meet each other, and we praise You for the way You are meeting Moroccans online and in dreams, visions and divine encounters. We pray for more! Amen.