Christians gear up to celebrate Easter in Morocco as religious freedom is celebrated around the country
Rabat – Easter is on Sunday, April 4, and Christians around the world will spend the day in church and with family. Morocco has welcomed its Christian population for centuries and hosts nearly 25,000 Christian residents according to the Moroccan Association of Human Rights.
Christians congregate on the first Sunday following the spring equinox in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter Sunday is preceded by Good Friday, which serves as a reminder for the crucifixion of Christ.
Typically, families will gather for a celebratory meal and children often celebrate with Easter egg hunts, sweets left by the Easter Bunny, and eating chocolate Easter eggs.
The prevalence of Christianity dates back to the Roman Empire and became more prominent during the French, Spanish occupation of Morocco. Christians in Morocco hail from all around the world but the majority of the Christian community is composed of Spaniards and sub-Saharan migrants.
With 44 active churches countrywide, Morocco is an example of religious tolerance in the Islamic world.
In 2019, Pope Francis visited Morocco to meet with community members and discuss the state of religious freedom in Morocco.
The Moroccan constitution guarantees “everyone the freedom to practice his religious affairs.” However, some citizens claim the country is not tolerant enough of other religious practices outside of Islam. Moroccan law discourages Muslims from converting to other religions although it is not unlawful.
It is unlawful for one to proselytize and the “shaking” of others’ faiths or attempting to convert Muslims to another religion” is punishable by up to six months of imprisonment and other fines.
In a speech hosted by the Moroccan Minister of Human Rights Mustapha Ramid, the intricacies of the Moroccan Penal Code were dissected and Ramid reassured the public that Morocco welcomes other religions.
Churches such as St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rabat and St. Andrew’s Church in Tangier look forward to hosting worshippers for sunrise service.