Monday, May 24, 2010

Trouble in Morocco

Morocco (Country threat level - 3): Moroccan government sources reported on 21 May 2010 that authorities have notified another group of foreigners in Morocco of their impending removal from the country for alleged Christian evangelizing activity; an offense punishable under Moroccan law. The 23 notified foreign nationals are predominantly Westerners, including at least one U.S. national. U.S. Embassy officials indicated that they are concerned about the second wave of deportations and are questioning the basis of the removal. The recent notifications follow a similar expulsion of Westerners in early March 2010. Local missionary and Christian groups in the country stated that many Christians are now worried about a perceived low-level government crackdown on Christians in the country.

ASI Comment: Although Morocco maintains good relations with most Western nations, and especially the U.S., diplomatic tensions have increased recently following Morocco’s recent refusal to abide by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. International watchdog groups have noted that the recent moves are not only in response to increasing international criticism, but also the government's efforts to deter Muslim conversions to Christianity in the country. Although the situation is not expected to result in violent targeting of Westerners or Christians in the country, rising tensions could include other politically motivated, official acts as well as further deportations of foreigners from the country.

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