The reports warns about an “authoritarian government and Islamist extremism.”
Rabat – The Catholic charity “Aid to the Church in Need” (ACN) has painted a dire picture of religious freedom in Morocco in its 2021 report. The group released its annual “Religious Freedom In The World Report 2021” on April 20, that paints a skewed picture of the world.
The ACN report described Morocco, often lauded for its religious freedom and coexistence, as a country where “severe cases” of religious discrimination occurs. It places Morocco in its “orange” category of countries that experience “discrimination, hate crimes and religiously-motivated violence.”
The ACN’s report describes Morocco as suffering under an “authoritarian government” as well as “Islamist extremism.” The report states that religious freedom in Morocco has improved since 2018, yet presents an unrecognizable picture of Moroccan society.
The report bases its data on the for-profit “World Religion Database” by Boston University’s Institute of Culture Religion and World Affairs which is funded by Christian organizations. It combines this data with that of the World Bank’s economic data and roughly 200 Western news articles it lists as its sources.
The report’s conclusions appear to ignore growing xenophobia and Islamophobia in the West by entirely excluding Western countries from its evaluation. This choice appears deliberate as the World Religion Database contains data on the West’s treatment of religious minorities, yet the authors of the report chose to exclude it from their analysis.
The report furthermore accuses Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) of “spurring Islamophobia.” The ACN’s conclusion appears to be that only “reform” in the Muslim world can halt Islamophobia and halt the reemergence of extremist groups such as ISIS.
The report describes “a reluctance to change” in the MENA region and highlights “discriminatory laws and practices, mainly against non-Muslims.”
Based on Western-authored media reports and an opaque methodology, the ACN report appears to paint a picture of the world that benefits the organization’s fundraising and political narrative, while providing few new insights into the reality of religious persecution.
Flaws become apparent in the ACN’s methodology deployed to research religious freedom. Its analysis concludes that Morocco suffers from “religious extremism,” despite Morocco’s much-lauded role in combating global extremism and terrorism.
“There were no terrorist incidents reported in Morocco in 2019,” states the latest US State Department report on Morocco.
Morocco, the document added, “has strong cooperation with European partners – especially Belgium, France, and Spain – to thwart potential terrorist threats in Europe.”
While some Western governments continue to systematically discriminate against Muslim minorities, the ACN report presents a skewed view of Morocco – and of the world.
It states Muslims are responsible for their own discrimination while bending the data to make it fit the narrative, ubiquitous among right-wing think tanks and Evangelical circles, that Christianity is the religion facing the most persecution in the world.