By Youssef El Kaidi
By Youssef El Kaidi
Morocco World News
Fez, May 22, 2013
The 2012 International Religious Freedom Report hailed Morocco for its constitutional, legal and political protection of religious freedom. “The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom” in Morocco, said the report which noted that religious minorities in Morocco enjoy the full right to practise their religious rituals without intervention, persecution or abuse.
However, the government usually puts some restrictions when it deems that people’s actions “exceeded the bounds of acceptable religious or political activity.”
Religious freedom in Morocco is guaranteed by law and any act of preventing or impeding a person from worship or attending worship services of any religion is likely to be punished by six months to three years of imprisonment and a fine of 115 to 575 dirhams ($14 to $68).
However, while voluntary conversion is not a crime under the criminal or civil codes, the government considers it offensive to proselytize and convert Moroccan Sunni Muslims to other religions and anyone accused of such an offense will be subjected to the same penalty.
The report’s positive assessment of Morocco for promoting religious freedom included many aspects. Moroccan authorities, the report noted, do not impose restrictions on religious dress and religious symbols whether in public or private places. Moreover, according to the same source, the Moroccan government offers customs and tax exemptions and grants real estate to help Muslims, Jews, and Christians living in the kingdom best practise their religious rituals.
The report also praised Morocco’s recognition of the Jewish cultural, artistic and literary heritage which is taught in several Moroccan universities such as Mohammed V University in Rabat, noting that there are about a hundred university professors teaching the Hebrew culture and language in various Moroccan universities. The Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs was also commended because it “continues to fund a graduate-level theological course, part of which focuses on Christianity and Judaism, and another course that trains both men and women to be counselors and teachers in mosques.”
After its criticism of the simple and occasional breaches of the government in respect to religious freedom, the report noted that there is a bilateral strategic dialogue between the U.S. and Morocco which started on September 13, 2012 to explore further cooperation to promote understanding and interfaith dialogue between the two nations.
The U.S. Department of State annually submits a report to the Congress on International Religious Freedom-The International Religious Freedom Report –which describes the status of religious freedom in every country. The report covers government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and U.S. policies to promote religious freedom around the world.
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