Taroudant, Morocco- On Thursday the Court of Appeals in Fez acquitted Mohamed El Baladi, 31, who was sentenced on September 3rd by the Trial Court in Taounate to thirty months in prison for converting to Christianity and inducing young Muslims to convert.
“The judge has just acquitted this Moroccan who converted to Christianity,” said Mohamed Oulad Ayad, president of the regional branch of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) in Fez.
On August 27th, the police of Aïn Aicha, a rural town in the Taounate province, arrested Mohamed El Baladi on charges of converting to Christianity and attempting to spread the Christian faith among young people in his village of Aïn Aicha.
Since the beginning of the trial, El Baladi had always defended his right to embrace the Christian faith.
The Moroccan constitution guarantees religious freedom, but any attempt to shake the faith of Muslims is punished according to the Moroccan Penal Code.
In accordance with Article 220 of the Moroccan Penal Code, a proselytizer may face “six months to three years prison and a fine of 100 to 500 Dirhams” for using the “means of seduction in order to convert” a Muslim “to another religion, either by exploiting his/her weakness or his/her needs, or using for these purposes education, health, asylums and orphanage institutions.”
According to AFP, Morocco’s higher council of religious scholars (CSO), the only institution entitled to issue fatwas in the kingdom, “called for the death penalty for Muslims who renounce their faith.”
After admitting their failure to spread what they call “the message of Christ” in the Kingdom, Christian missionaries have used Facebook to distribute more than 30,000 Bibles translated into “Darija,” Moroccan Arabic, in an attempt to entice Moroccans to convert to Christianity.
According to the 2012 International Religious Freedom Report of the U.S. Department of State, the predominantly Roman Catholic and Protestant Christian expat community in Morocco “consists of approximately 5,000 practicing members, although some Protestant and Catholic clergy estimate the number to be as high as 25,000”.
Edited by Jessica Rohan
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