By Ali Hassan Eddehbi
By Ali Hassan Eddehbi
“My name is Iman. I am Moroccan and Christian. Yes, I am Christian, but I am not a foreigner. My father is Sahraoui, and my mom is Amazigh. I was born and grew up in Morocco,” says a young woman with a smile. Personally, I have found the opening sentences are enough powerful to draw us into the content of the video. The first opus of an upcoming series of short podcasts made by Moroccans, for Moroccans.
“Moroccan and Christian” is the title of this new program podcasted on a YouTube channel with the same title. “A series of short videos in which Moroccan Christians, in Morocco or abroad, will explain their Christian faith and reply to many rumors and misunderstandings about Christianity,” says the channel’s short description.
A bold choice for sure but also an innovative idea. Not only because the podcasters dare to appear with their uncovered faces, but also because the main point smartly highlights in a new and non-aggressive way that being Moroccan necessarily implies the fact of being Muslim. It is short, fresh, friendly, powerful, and, above all, instructive. Here are some reasons for which I think this video brings something new to the struggle for the freedom of belief.
Culture is common, faith is individual
In a perfect Darija sprinkled with idioms, Iman tells us her own anecdote of when her Moroccan husband visited his family in his village and they told him, “Why you didn’t come with your wife. Even if she’s Christian and doesn’t speak Darija, we will welcome her.”
It might be not thatfunny, but it tells volumes about the mainstream mentality. Since they knew that this man’s wife is Christian, they could not imagine that she is Moroccan. They have never seen it, so they think it does not exist, and by (a very harmful) extension, that it should not exist. Thanks to Iman for remind us of that fact!
Explaining not complaining
Alongside the relatively open climate of the last few years, Moroccan religious, or non-religious, minorities started to claim their rights to express their faith and asked for abolition of some articles of the penal law which penalize conversion to a religion other than Islam. Repressed quite often by the authorities, these claims were supported by the international media and human rights organizations. The whole discourse was logically reduced to criticism of the oppressive penal law. This struggle between both ideologies has unfortunately depicted a simplistic picture: religious minorities are against majoritarian values and want to disturb us.
In this video, Iman intelligently escapes this trick and simply explains her “right to choose the faith that makes her feel comfortable.” “Not only the law, but also society,” she says while describing the reason why Moroccan Christians have hidden themselves. In other words, her voice is not against society but rather tries to catch the attention and the understanding of the society. Calm down guys, it is friendly!
Explaining not proselytizing
Let us scroll back in time to 2010 when Christian volunteers and foster parents at a Moroccan orphanage were forced to abandon dozens of children after they were accused of proselytizing. The former Minister of Communication, Khalid Naciri, warned that the government would be “severe with all those who play with religious values, according to the BBC. He added that religious freedom is guaranteed under Moroccan law, but proselytizing is banned. The video has broken new ground in that the content is respectful of this “legal redline,” without any religious branding. Nevertheless, I am quite sure that some will still think that talking about another religion than Islam is itself proselytism.
This mix is false and harmful – false because, according to the Oxford Dictionary, proselytism is an action to “convert or attempt to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another.” However, Iman and the other participants try to “express” their ideas without telling anything about the “good side of being Christian.”
Christian but (Not) for a fistful of dollars
Iman looks urban and educated. We can see the same profiles in the teaser of the program. A short video which shows six other urban and educated Moroccans. This challenges the cliché of the poor Moroccan who chooses to convert to Christianity because he or she is tricked by someone proselytizing who offers them money and promises of going to Europe or elsewhere.
Peace and love
Last but not least, Iman says she loves us. She loves Moroccans without any distinction of religion. Thank you, Iman.