OXFORD, England - The family of this young Moroccan man lives in the small village of Ain Aicha (Taounate Province), completely stigmatized by the now infamous decision of their son to convert to Christianity.
OXFORD, England – The family of this young Moroccan man lives in the small village of Ain Aicha (Taounate Province), completely stigmatized by the now infamous decision of their son to convert to Christianity.
His name is Mohammed El Baldi, and he is 34 years old. He has already begun his 30 month prison sentence, which has so far been disastrous. Almost as soon as he entered his cell, he has allegedly suffered beatings from fellow inmates to such an extent that the guard finally moved him to an individual cell, fearing for his life.
Mr. El Baldi was arrested in Ain Aicha, Taounate on August 28 and the judge in Taounate sentenced him on September 2, according to the online petition calling for his release. He was charged with the crime of conversion and proselytism. So far, nearly 800 individuals have signed an online petition calling on the King to guarantee and enforce freedom of religion and conscience in Morocco.
The petition cites Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which stipulates that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
They also call for the abolition of section 220 of the Moroccan penal code, which states that “Shall be punished by imprisonment from 6 months to 3 years and a fine of 100 to 500 dirhams, whoever uses to deceive in order to shake the faith of a Muslim or to convert to another religion, or by exploiting his weakness or his needs, or using for these purposes of education, health, asylums and orphanages.”
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