One of the most moderate Muslim nations may be shifting hard line and no one is paying attention. In the last few months (though most happening on the same week in March) around 60 foreigners were expelled from the country. What is their crime? They are Christians, and a government once open to other faiths is now kicking out Christians (mostly long time aid workers) for proselytizing. They offer no proof to the charge, no judges or courts, yet authorities have swept into areas and removed people in the midst of their good works.
On March 6th and 8th Moroccan authorities raided homes and orphanages of Christian aid workers. The event was unexpected and no one outside of their government knew about the sudden change in treatment of Christian foreigners. Chuck Lewis (not real name) had been working in Morocco for 15 years as a businessman who also did occasional community development aid (with 2 others including a Muslim). Policemen picked him on the 6th and took him to the police station for a two hour interrogation. The chief of police then came in and expelled him even though he admitted to not knowing why. They only gave him hours to say goodbye to his wife and get ready to leave his home.
“You can imagine spending 15 years in a job and a country, and somebody giving you eight hours to get yourself ready.” – Chuck Lewis
Dr. Malcolm Williams was given similar treatment by officials on that same day. He was a professor of translation at a local University for 21 years. After five hours of interrogation he was put on a boat bound for Spain without even getting to say goodbye to his wife.
“(These) are not isolated incidents but clearly represent a systematic attempt to remove Christian workers from the country, and then in due course to scatter the emerging national Moroccan church.” -Dr. Malcolm Williams
A sudden change of policy in Morocco appears to be a type of soft Jihad against Christians in the country. Many fear that the next step will be aggression against national Christians. In fact, some have seen harsh treatment of nationals has already begun. One former worker there told me that her friends still in country have reported “heavy interrogation” of locals.
“The first wave was this deportation of foreign Christians. Now the heat is on Moroccan Christians—it’s pretty intense.” – Jack Wald, Pastor of Rabat International Church in Morocco.
I’ve actually visited the Rabat International Church in Morocco on a Sunday morning 9 years ago. In the summer of 2001 I went with my then fiance’ Amy and a small group of college students to Morocco for two weeks. We were led by a former aid worker there. We spent one week in Casablanca doing kids’ sports camps with a local organization. The second week we traveled all over the country doing one day volunteer jobs. One of those days was in an orphanage called Village of Hope (VOH), an orphanage for Moroccan children in a rural village near Ain Leuh in northern Morocco. (Pictured below is me at a cafe’ and my now wife Amy working at VOH.)
The VOH orphanage that we spent a day at was hit by a raid on March 8th. Officials swooped in, within hours all 16 oversees workers were deported. Many of these were house parents of multiple orphans living in on site housing. VOH is home to over 33 orphans who suddenly had no one to take care of them. VOH was an open establishment and the government had previously approved of their work there and had visited the place multiple times before. Suddenly they were being shut down for proselytizing.
The day we visited the orphanage in 2001 we saw no signs of people trying to convert any one. It was loving people bringing up kids that were often left there by single Muslim women who feared for their lives if they kept their baby. We spent our one day at VOH working on the grounds. We basically took shovels and pickaxes and moved a pile of dirt somewhere else (pictured above). It was a wonderful and caring place that has been terrorized by the government.
Why the change? No one is sure. Morocco has recently shifted from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. The latest election gave the more modern and moderate party majority power. The other two parties (one monarchist and one socialist) may be attempting to garner more power by getting the support of Islamists. Or some wonder that the government might be simply trying to appease terrorist groups from future attacks on the country (there were violent attacks in 2003 and 2007).
Whatever the reason, our government needs to keep a closer eye on the once modern and moderate Muslim nation. Our national security does not need a country, that is only a few miles from Spain, becoming a hotbed for Islamic extremism. So far this turn of events has been largely ignored by the press and has not been addressed by President Obama. It’s time for people to speak up.