Rabat – While Moroccan Christians have become more and more outspoken, demanding rights to worship and be recognized as a legitimate religious group in a Muslim-majority country, an even smaller local religious minority has emerged as well: the Baha’i.
Their existence in Morocco is not recent. Baha’i groups in the kingdom date back just to the 1960s. Back then they were prosecuted, and some were even sentenced to death, but eventually were granted pardon. A few decades later, things have drastically changed.
Jaouad Mabrouki is a well established Moroccan psychotherapist and a Baha’i. Through media interviews and articles he published in Arabic, he became a prominent voice of his community. In conversation with Morocco World News, he talks about his faith and the deep changes he believes the Moroccan society is undergoing.
1) More and more Moroccans are speaking publicly about their adherence to Bahaism. You are one of them. What has led you personally to speak out about your beliefs?
First let me clarify that we don’t use the term “Bahaism,” but rather the “Baha’i Faith.”
Nothing has pushed me personally except for the openness of Moroccan society and the awareness of the diversity of our society, which has made media interested in different religious aspects of the country. Moroccans are ready to discover this diversity.
My goal is also to build up religious coexistence in our country, hoping that we could live in peace and harmony. I talk to media outlets at their request, not mine, and the same thing goes for my talking to you.
2) How did you become a Baha’i?
At a certain time in my life I became aware that I was following a religion [because it was] inherited from my parents, instead of doing so as a result of searching for the truth.
Also, I could not stand the prejudice that I had carried with me against other religions since my early childhood. In this spiritual quest, I came across the Baha’i faith and found in it the answers to all my expectations.
3) You previously said in an interview with a media outlet that you have not encountered any problems because of your adherence to the Baha’i faith. But is this the case for your fellow believers too?
Up to my knowledge it is so.
Despite the tendency to label the Moroccan society as traditional and conservative, allow me to tell you that, as a psychoanalyst, [I believe] that this is not true any more. At the current rate of evolution, the Moroccan society will witness, in a 10 or 15 years’ time, a revolutionary societal shakeup, and that traditionalism and conservatism will only be old memories. This is how I observe and analyze society in light of [my field work] and the mindset of the current young generation.
Yes, Moroccans are accepting difference more and more, because it’s a reality that imposes itself and a totally natural evolution.
5) A good number of Muslim preachers treat the Baha’i faith as a “heresy” and accuse it of being pro-Israel. Are you worried that this might affect Moroccans’ perception of of their fellow Baha’i citizens?
This was the case in the 1960s and 1970s. Now, with the digital technology and easy access to information [directly] from its source, Moroccans have discovered that was was being said about Baha’is was the result of hatred and intolerance. The truth became more and more evident, and those statements have almost disappeared from our country.
6) The Moroccan state only recognizes Islam and Judaism as components of the national religious identity, leaving out Moroccan Christians and Baha’is. Do you think this is going to change in the future?
Inevitably. By the way, the change is already underway. Furthermore, Morocco made a decision to be a democratic country respecting human rights. It is just a matter of time.