The UN has invited the Moroccan Association for Religious Rights and Freedoms to the Forum of Minority Issues in Geneva.
By Trista Youssef
Rabat- The association will be represented by five Christian converts from Rabat, Fez, and Kenitra, according to spokesperson Jaouad El Hamid. The association has prepared a report on “obstructions” to religious freedom in Morocco that restrict individuals from practicing religions other than Sunni Islam.
The Moroccan Association for Religious Rights and Freedoms is not recognized by Morocco’s interior ministry as a legal NGO.
Before the UN forum, the Moroccan Association for Religious Rights and Freedoms must meet with Moroccan interior minister Abdelouafi Laftit over its legal status.
Jaouad El Hamid told Morocco World News in a statement today that the interior minister was absent at a scheduled meeting with his NGO and the Moroccan National Human Rights Council. Laftit’s absence prevented the association from gaining legal recognition.
Hamid also stated that religious minorities in Morocco face challenges acquiring and maintaining citizenship and are largely excluded from public life.
According to a US State Department report, Moroccan minorities, including Christians, Jews, Shia Muslims, and Baha’i Muslims—a subgroup of Shi’ism, make up 1 percent of the population. The report shows several religious minorities remain persecuted by society and also by the Moroccan penal code despite the guarantee of freedom of worship in the Moroccan Constitution.
Hamid described his NGO’s involvement in the UN Forum on Minority Issues as the “first step” in allowing “religious minorities in the Kingdom to practice their beliefs without being restricted.”
The UN Forum for Minorities is instrumental in shaping the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review. Recommendations and insight given by international NGOs aids the UNHCR in giving human rights reports overseeing human rights standards in several countries, including Morocco.