Missionaries Seek New Converts in Morocco and North Africa


Webmaster: "Missionaries call Weapons of Missionary Deception a human rights issue !!"

Christian Missionaries At The I.P.C.I.- Ahmed Deedat (1/11)

The current Moroccan constitution guarantees freedom of religion for all, but it designates Islam as the state religion. Missionary work is not allowed, but there are foreign missionaries in other roles seeking to spread their faith. Conversion from Islam is not a criminal offense in Morocco but new converts face social ostracism.

Any criticism of Islam is banned under the Penal Code and is punishable with up to five years in prison. Publications that could "threaten the fundamental institutional policies or religion of the kingdom" can also be banned.

A team from IN Network, a missionary group based in Michigan, is currently working to expand a correspondence course. They are also concentrating more on church planting. Nationals are said to have joined this ministry to handle various task. IN Network also reports new center for evangelism in Casablanca, the biggest city in Morocco. Plans are said to be on track to open an evangelical center in 2009.

Radio Broadcast outreach into North Africa

Trans World Radio is a Christian radio network that broadcast in many languages is currently broadcasting in Arabic and four different Berber / Amazigh/ languages.

The importance of this project to Christian missionaries was confirmed by a Moroccan man who was said to have converted through a radio broadcast. "For ten years, that man had no fellowship with other Christians, and it was only through radio that he had fellowship. Radio can go places missionaries often can't." said Mr. John summerville of Trans World Radio.

TWR delivered radio/CD players to Morocco and Algeria, along with a CD of TWR programming. If broadcast signals are weak, listeners can still hear the programs. In addition, several hundred pre-fixed radios are being readied for distribution throughout North Africa. TRW is also raising about $200,000 USD to fund this project. TRW producers focus their radio program content towards women, youth, oral-speakers, and the general public.

Morocco warns of tough line after missionaries expelled


RABAT (AFP) - The Moroccan government warned Thursday it would take a tough line against proselytisers two days after 20 foreign Christian missionaries were expelled.

Communications Minister Khalid Naciri said the government would be "severe with all those who play with religious values".

The Christians were expelled after religious authorities accused them of proselytism, illegal in the North African majority Sunni-Muslim country.

The warning also referred to Muslims of the radical Salafia Jihadia movement and certain Shiite Muslim teachers, the minister said.

The expelled missionaries included couples from Britain and The Netherlands who had adopted Moroccan children, the Open Doors international Protestant evangelical organisation said.

It criticised the government's move, asking in a statement whether "Morocco was taking a step backwards on the road to openness and respect for human rights."

Naciri dismissed the charge, stating that "Morocco has always been and remains a land of openness and tolerance."

"All churches have their place on the street in Morocco and Christians practise their religion freely," the minister said.

"The rare cases of expulsion have nothing to do with the practice of Christianity but with acts of proselytism."

Naciri said the expelled missionaries "took advantage of the poverty of some families and targeted their young children, whom they took in hand, in violation of the kafala (adoption) procedures for abandoned or orphaned children."

The children have been placed in a care home.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Rabat, Vincent Landel, and the president of the Evangelical Church in Morocco Father Jean-Luc Blanc said Wednesday those who were expelled "were not acting in accordance with the law of the Catholic Church."

Proselytism was "an act to be condemned," they said.

"Our goal is to take part in the building of a Morocco where Muslims, Jews and Christians are happy to share their responsibility in building a country where people can live together in justice, peace and reconciliation," they said.

Rabbi Joseph Israel, president of the rabbinical chamber at the court in Casablanca, also spoke out against proselytism.

"Morocco is a nation of tolerance," he said, according to the MAP news agency. "Here, we practise all religions -- Islam, Judaism and Christianity -- without constraints or limits."

"There is no place for the practice of proselytism."

On Thursday, Interior Minister Taib Cherkaoui and Minister of Islamic Affairs Ahmed Touqif had a meeting with Archbishop Landel, Father Blanc and Rabbi Israel, MAP reported.

The government ministers wanted to give the representatives of the other faiths "the thanks of the Moroccan authorities for their firm reaction and their immediate condemnation of acts of proselytism aimed at undermining our beliefs and our spiritual religious values," the news agency said.

Morocco's War on Missionaries


Busted: It's big news in Morocco when missionaries are ferreted out, as was the case when al-Ittihad al-Ichtiraki reported on the seizure of missionary documents in 2006. (Morocco Times / The View From Fez)

Hold your nose and take a load of this: "The grasp of Mohammedanism is great upon the Middle East. No stronger, however, are the tentacles of Islam wrapped around the lives of the people than in Iran, the ancient empire of Persia. From Arabia the long arm of Islam reached like a creeping snake across the desert until it took all the Near East into its fingers."

Grasp. Tentacles. Creeping snake. Those are the words of G. F. Zoeckler, a Philadelphia Presbyterian missionary to Iran in the 1920s.

Or this, from a 1947 book on the Sudan by Edward Morrow (the missionary, not the broadcaster), called Islam Bows: After telling the story of a convert called Abu Musa, Morrow writes, "In the land of Abba Musa there are yet 60,000,000 Mohammedans who have not bowed before the Cross of Calvary as this malam did. While many of these are not in the Middle East, still that portion of Africa, northern and far eastern, which edges the Middle East, stands as a challenge to those who would carry the Gospel of the Cross to this land wherein the shackles of Islam are strong."

Is it any wonder the locals bristle and gag at the thought of missionaries among them? Between you and me, the Christian missionaries, evangelicals especially, sweeping the Arab world (or any world) these days are only a few rungs removed from snake-oil salesmen, gun-runners and neo-cons (when neo-cons were sweeping the Middle East and trying to convert it to Hamiltonian crony-capitalism).

They may be more polite, more subtle than the last century's heavy-handed arrogance of missionaries who felt unbound, but that's by necessity: Arab states are stronger, more policed these days. They've freed themselves from the claws of colonialism and reemerged as garden-variety authoritarian police states, where evangelizing is simply illegal. It's not an improvement. But it's difficult to muster sympathy for missionaries whose impulse is still driven by the 19th century notion that Arabs and Muslims are backward children ("a thankless and impassive race," as Mark Twain described them in Innocents Abroad) who need to be "saved."

So when I hear of missionaries being booted out of an Arab country, I'm of two mind. On one hand, I cheer the boots for doing to missionaries what they deserve, given their presumptions. On the other hand, it's just as true that the Muslim world's various prohibitions on publicly worshiping anything but Islam is equally reprehensible. Anyone should be free to worship whatever religion he or she chooses, publicly or privately. It's no one's business but the individual's. It's especially not the state's business, or that of the imam down the street. Along those lines, missionaries, as aggravating, arrogant and bigoted as they may be, should have equal freedom to roam and convert whom they please--if people are desperate enough, misinformed enough, rebellious enough or dub enough to go along.

That, of course, is not the case, not even in allegedly liberal Morocco, where yet another missionary was thrown out of the country yesterday for, according to Morocco's interior ministry, "openly converting people to Christianity." That one was American. He was seized with a "sizeable amount of proselytisation brochures," according to the ministry, in the town of Imizmiz, some 35 miles south of Marrakech.

Last month five Christian priests were kicked out for evangelizing. Last March Morocco put five European women on a ferry and sent them back to Spain for holding illegal evangelical conversion sessions. Last year Morocco also cut off diplomatic relations with Iran over claims that Iran had sent mini-mullahs to convert Sunnis to Shiitism. Ever vigilant in matters of repressing minorities, Morocco targeted homosexuals, too, in its sweep against Shiites.

Back in 2006 police unearthed documents pointing to the secret presence of evangelists in the country, which prompted The View from fez, a very good blog, to remark (uncharacteristically, I thought), "The general disquiet in Moroccan society about American evangelism appears to be justified. It is time the evangelists realised that respecting each others religious beliefs is important - as is respecting the laws of the country you are living in."

When it comes to missionaries and laws against them, it's difficult to say what's more reprehensible: the missionary impulse or the laws that suppress them. Curiously, it's in the more open and religiously free societies of the Middle East, among them Lebanon, Israel and to some extent Egypt, that missionaries have had the better impact if the schools, universities, hospitals, orphanages and (if memory serves) occasional newspapers they founded are the legacy they may be judged by. More repressive countries (the majority of the Middle East, Morocco among them) have less to show for their furtive missionaries, but partly because they show them the boot and the door instead of giving them the chance to be less than aggravating. The Lebanon model is the better way.

Missionaries defend their dirty work Morocco. Begins Large-Scale Expulsion of Foreign Christians