The reports about Andrew Brunson’s release are just another example of how little the media know about evangelical churches.
Most will not celebrate Christmas publicly this year to avoid “schisms in society” as they wait for the government to answer to their requests of freedom and equality.
In the last two years the Moroccan Christians have taken several steps to get out of hiding.
One of the biggest was the conference held in November on minority religions and their rights, where the participants presented a joint declaration, stressing the need of developing religious freedom and equality for all Moroccans, regardless of their creed.
Until now, Christians have had to live in almost absolute secrecy. They are not recognized by the law and the conversion from Islam to another religion is prohibited.
That is why the Christian minority has lived in hiding. Foreigners are allowed to practice their Christian faith, but with restrictions regarding the dissemination of materials and meetings in public spaces.
“THE KING OF ALL MOROCCANS”
But the situation began to change two years ago. Some Moroccan Christians saw the opportunity to come to light thanks to the words of the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, who said in an interview that he was “the king of all Moroccans, of all religions”.
Soon after, a forum on religious minorities in the Islamic world was organized in Marrakech, with the attendance of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, which was an opportunity to address the situation of Christians in Morocco.
The organisers presented a series of recommendations that included respect for the rights of religious minorities in the Kingdom.
FREEDOM OF WORSHIP FOR ALL
King Mohammed VI undertook to guarantee freedom of worship “to Christians, to all the combined communities and churches legally residing in Morocco, as well as to Moroccans of the Jewish faith”.
Since then, Moroccan Christians have begun to emerge from hiding.
The National Coordinator of Moroccan Christians presented a series of requests to the government of Morocco, including the possibility of naming their children after biblical names, the right for their children to decide if they want or not to take the Islamic religion class at school, the celebration of civil marriages, cemeteries for Christians, and the fredom of worship.
These claims remain on the table of the government with no official response yet.
CHRISTMAS IN HIDING
In this context, Christians prefer not to make any request or public demand on the celebration of Christmas this year, to avoid “creating schisms” in society, Mustafa Susi, spokesperson for several Christian groups, explained to Spanish news agency Efe.
Thus, the Christmas celebrations will take place privately, without publicity or the assistance of journalists, something that was promoted the previous two years.
“Our principle is that if our demands are to create schisms, we will have to wait; State security is above all”, Susi pointed out.