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US Report on Religious Freedoms in Morocco ‘Does Not Match Reality’: El Khalfi

‘Judiciary is Independent’: El Khalfi Comments on Activists’ Sentences

Rabat – Morocco’s Government Spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi has criticized the US State Department’s 2017 International Religious Freedom Report on Morocco, emphasizing that it not based on precise scientific data.

El Khalfi said, in a press briefing after Thursday’s weekly cabinet meeting, that the report is not “matching reality” and has “value judgments and is exaggerated,” stressing that Morocco is a country of “religious freedom.”

The report noted that despite efforts to promote religious tolerance in the country, religious minorities experience social pressures in Morocco.

El Khalfi has also announced that the ministerial committee in charge of examining reports on Morocco will consider the report prepare an answer.

The report, published on Tuesday, said that religious minorities in Morocco, including Christians, Jews, and Bahais, represent 1 percent of the population. Shia Muslims represent less than 0.1 percent.

The report also claimed that the government jailed Christians to question them about their beliefs at times. According to estimates from Christian leaders, there approximately 2,000 to 6,000 Christian converts in Morocco.

The report also mentioned instances when Christians, Bahais, and Shia Muslims were allegedly pressured by civilians, including one person attacked for eating in public during Ramadan.

In addition, the report notes that “Christian and Shia Muslim citizens stated fears of government harassment led to their decision to hold religious meetings in members’ homes.”

In its 2016 report, the State Department also criticized the state of religious freedom in the country, claiming that several laws undermine freedom of belief in the country.

“Some local Christians reported authorities pressured Moroccan Christian converts to renounce their faith,”  reads the report.

The laws which undermine freedom of religion, according to the report, include: “the fact that Sunni Islam and Judaism are the only religions recognized by the state for native Moroccans,” “the prohibition of criticizing Islam on public platforms,” and “the criminalization of the rupture of the fasting during Ramadan for people known to be Muslim.”

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