Morocco, North Africa
Political Leader: King Mohamed VI
Religions: Islam 99.9%, Christianity 0.1%
Persecution Ranking: 40
Number of Terrorist Groups: 4
Acts of Terrorism: 26; Casualties: 46
Percent of Corruption: 68%
% of People in Poverty: 15%
Morocco, officially known as the Kingdom of Morocco, has a coast on the Atlantic Ocean that reaches past the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. Morocco has international borders with Algeria to the east, Spain to the north. To the south, lies the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony that was annexed by Morocco in 1975. Morocco claims that the Western Sahara is part of its territory and refers to that as its Southern Provinces. Morocco is comparable in size to Iraq, and is somewhat larger than the U.S. state of California.
A series of suicide bombing attacks shattered the relative lull in terrorist violence that had prevailed in Morocco since the 2003 Casablanca bombings, according to Country Reports on Terrorism 2007. The attacks underscored that Morocco’s greatest terrorist threat stems from numerous small “grassroots” Salafi Jihadist groups. The main external terrorism threat to Morocco was Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its demonstrated willingness to train inexperienced Moroccan extremists. Morocco adopted a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy that emphasized vigilant security measures, counter-radicalization policies and strong international cooperation. Last year’s violence was centered in the city of Casablanca, Morocco’s commercial capital, but the last attack occurred in the city of Meknes. The Moroccan government continued to implement internal reforms aimed at ameliorating socio-economic factors that terrorists exploit for recruitment and ideological purposes. Morocco’s Ministry of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs continued the reforms launched in 2004 to counter extremist ideology and promote religious moderation and tolerance. MOIA supervised revisions to the country’s religious curriculum, broke with precedent by appointing 50 women as spiritual guides at mosques across the country, and installed a closed-circuit television network that broadcasts moderate religious sermons to 2,000 mosques per day. The government of Morocco also disrupted numerous cells dedicated to sending Jihadi fighters to Iraq, including one based in the northern Moroccan city of Tetouan. The Tetouan cell appeared to be both a nascent domestic terror cell and a feeding point into the Iraq foreign fighter pipeline. The government of Morocco emphasized adherence to human rights standards and increased law enforcement transparency as part of its counterterrorism program.
Sunni Islam is the state religion and the government is committed to preserving Islam as the religion of all Moroccons, 99.8% of whom are Muslims. Christians are only .10% of the population.
Challenges for Christians:
Morocco is ranked No. 40 among nations that are the worst persecutors of Christians, based on Open Doors 2008 World Watch List. Any Muslim converting to Christianity could face persecution. There are some Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches, which are recognized by Morocco, but they are only for foreigners living in the country. Moroccan Christians have no right to pray in these churches. But many of the converts are baptized secretly in Morocco’s churches. Thousands of people are reportedly converting into Christianity from Islam in Morocco. Earlier this year, a Moroccan court in Agadir jailed German tourist Sadek Noshi Yassa, 64, for six months for attempting to convert Muslims in November 2006. Yassa, who is of Egyptian origin, was arrested for distributing books and CDs about the Christian faith to young Muslim Moroccans in the street. A court also fined him the equivalent of $60.
- Pray for Morocco to remain proactive in its efforts to combat terrorism.
- Since 1975, Morocco has occupied the Western Sahara and continues to fight a war there with Saharawi liberation movement. Pray for a resolution for more than 25 years of conflict and pray that the Saharawi can be returned to their homeland.
- Moroccons have a pride in their country as a center for Islamic learning and heritage. Less than 5% of the population have ever met a Christian or heard the Gospel. Pray that God would open doors for Christians to be a witness for Him.
- Pray that there would be greater freedom for Christians to share their faith, and for protection for Muslims who want to find out more about Christianity. Pray for the safety of Muslim Background Believers (MBBs).
- Pray for the safe distribution of Bibles and other Christian materials.
Sources: 24-7 Prayer, Operation World, Wikipedia, Country Reports on Terrorism 2007
, International Religious Freedom Report 2007, Open Doors, Journal Chretien, Salem Voice Ministries