Showing posts with label Morocco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Morocco. Show all posts

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fitna in Morocco

TIME magazine has published an article by Lisa Abend entitled: In Morocco, a Crackdown on Christian Aid Workers. 21 March 2010

(For background and analysis see my earlier post of 14 March 2010 entitled, Morocco: up to 70 foreign Christians expelled.)

Abend's article mentions a number of cases not previously mentioned in other reports; such as that of a Korean-born Protestant pastor in Marrakesh who was arrested as he led a worship service in his church. It also includes a moving 55 second film clip which shows the distress suffered by the orphans at the Village of Hope orphanage on 8 March, after they learned that their foster parents were going to be taken from them and deported. Furthermore, it also gives us another hint as to what might be simmering beneath the surface.

Quoting from Abend's TIME magazine article: "According to the Moroccan government, the deportees all broke the law, using their status as aid workers to cover their proselytizing. 'They are guilty of trying to undermine the faith of Muslims,' Interior Minister Tayeb Cherkaoui said in a press release.

"But were they? Broadbent denies the charges. Part of his job at the Village of Hope was to ensure that staff members understood the rules prohibiting proselytizing, and he notes that all the orphanage's children received instruction in Islam. 'We weren't teaching Christianity in any formal way,' he says. But asked if reading the Bible to Muslim children constitutes proselytizing, he said, 'We understood that it wasn't. And in any case, the authorities have always known that these children were being raised in Christian families.' "

Herein lies the problem -- it is a matter of perspective. The foreign Christians and the fundamentalist Muslims are viewing the issue of Christian aid work through completely different lenses. The Christian aid workers believe that as long as they are not pressuring Muslims to convert to Christianity then they are not guilty of proselytising. They believe that for a conversion to be genuine it must be of the heart and absolutely free, so they have no interest in "proselytising". They simply believe in liberty, and that it is an idea's ability to stand on its own two feet in the open market place of ideas that gives it worth. But for the Muslim fundamentalists who are doubtless behind this move and possibly pressuring the reformist government for concessions, the issue is fitna.

Fitna

In his book The Third Choice, Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom (Feb 2010, Deror Books), pastor, linguist and Islam-scholar Rev Dr Mark Durie notes (page 96): "The Arabic word fitna 'trial, persecution, temptation' is of crucial importance in understanding Muhammad's metamorphosis" [from rejected "loser" in Mecca, to victorious "winner" in Medina]. "The word," explains Durie, "is derived from fatana 'to turn away from, to tempt, to seduce or subject to trials'." (Quote taken from E.W. Lane, An Arabic-English Lexicon. Book 6, p.2334ff.)

Thus fitna, which is equated with persecution, involves anything that could cause a Muslim to leave Islam -- anything from vile torture to magnetic grace. The whole purpose of jihad was to eliminate fitna. For some, this simply meant that infidels had to be so totally subjugated and humiliated, to the point of wretchedness and paralysis, that the alternative to Islam was abhorrent and repulsive. For others, the elimination of fitna required the elimination of infidels in order to ensure that there was no alternative that could threaten Islam in any way.

For according to the Islamic order, Muslims are superior -- the most noble/best community ever raised up for mankind (Q3:110) -- and therefore must dominate. It is the Muslims who are called to success. Thus a thriving dhimmi would be a source of fitna for the Muslim community. Of course a thriving apostate is the most threatening embodiment of fitna imaginable. This is why the dictators of Islam are so desperately apostaphobic.

Durie writes (p.97) concerning the fitna phrases in the Quran (Q2:190-193 and 217, and 8:39): "These fitna phrases, each revealed twice in the Quran, establish the principle that jihad was justified by the existence of an obstacle to people entering Islam, or of inducements to Muslims to abandon their faith. However grievous it might be to fight others and shed their blood, undermining or obstructing Islam was worse."

For, as the Quran states: ". . . to turn men from the way of Allah, and to disbelieve in him . . . is a greater transgression with Allah [than fighting in the sacred month], for persecution (fitna) is worse than killing. . ." (Q2:217)

Fitna in Morocco

Consider again the words of Tayeb Cherkaoui, Morocco's Interior Minister who has accused the Christian aid workers of being "guilty of trying to undermine the faith of Muslims", and the words of Christian aid worker Chris Broadbent, who flatly denied that any "proselytisation" had taken place.

Obviously MP Cherkaoui has determined that nothing shakes the faith of a Muslim, tempting him/her to leave Islam, as much as the sacrificial gracious love of a Christian. As far as he is concerned, every one of the deported Christian aid workers was guilty of fitna (persecuting Islam, attacking Islam, seducing Muslims away from Islam) whether they were aware of it or not.

For active evangelisation is not the only form of fitna presenting a challenge to Islam. The fundamentalists know that in order to really eliminate fitna, they must eliminate every demonstration of Christian sacrificial love, Christian mercy, Christian grace, Christian joy and Christian assurance/peace -- for these amount to the most devastating fitna of all!

The expulsion of foreign Christian aid workers from Morocco may well set a precedent. All does not bode well for Christian aid work in the Muslim world.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Morocco: up to 70 foreign Christians expelled.

As Reuters reports: "Morocco has expelled up to 70 Christian foreign aid workers since the start of this month, saying they were abusing its tradition of religious tolerance to try to convert local Muslims."

According to Compass Direct News, "A Moroccan pastor, his wife and a relative were arrested on Wednesday [March 10] and released on the next day, raising fears among local Christians that the wave of intolerance may spread to the country’s small but growing church of nearly 1,000 believers.

"An expert on religious freedom in the Middle East who requested anonymity said that attacks on the church are inevitable even in a Western-looking, modern country like Morocco, as the church grows and becomes more visible.

"'Because conversion is a taboo, if the government looks like it is doing nothing in regard to all the foreign missionaries that are coming and "corrupting" the country and its "national soul," it gives credit to Islamists who could challenge the "Islam-ness" of the Royal Family and the government, and that’s just what Morocco can't afford,' said the expert.

"The clampdown on foreign workers could signal government malaise toward the growing church. 'The more they grow, the more visible they become, the more they'll attract this reaction,' said the expert. 'And that's why they've been so quiet with house groups. It's just a matter of time.'"

Commenting on the deportations in relation to the closure of a Dutch-run orphanage, Morocco Board News Service writes: "It is puzzling what the Moroccan authorities are trying to achieve by this latest wave of deportations from the country. In addition to giving the country a bad image, it also negates a long cherished claim by Moroccan authorities that the country is a bastion of religious freedom."
See: Morocco: Orphanage shut down and Missionaries Expelled. 9 March 2010
Deportations by Morocco Causes Outcry in Holland. 10 March 2010

See also: Morocco clamps down on foreign Christians
Mission Network News. 10 March 2010
Morocco defends expulsion of Christian workers
BBC 12 March 2010
Morocco warns of tough line after missionaries expelled
AFP 13 March 2010
(This AFP article includes strong condemnations of "proselytism" from Morocco's Communications Minister Khalid Naciri , as well as leading Catholic and Jewish dhimmi voices.)


While the mass expulsion of foreign Christians does indicate a dramatic shift in policy, it should not come as a total surprise.

In September last year, the government moved against a new local civil liberties group known as the Alternative Movement for the Defense of Individual Liberties (MALI) when they attempted to stage an act of civil disobedience in protest of Article 222 of the Moroccan Penal Code which criminalises public eating during the fasting hours of Ramadan.

MALI's founder, Ms Zineb El-Rhazoui (a young female journalist and dual Moroccan-French citizen) has stated that MALI's objective is to defend 'all freedoms. Including freedom of worship'.

In September 2009, Zineb El-Rhazoui appealed through the group's Facebook site for supporters to join her on 13 September 2009 for a fast-breaking public picnic in the woods outside the town of Mohammedia.

However, when MALI supporters arrived at Mohammedia railway station they were met by a large contingent of some 100 police, who recorded the names and details of the religious dissidents.

Outraged Islamic clerics responded angrily, labelling MALI as "agitators" and demanding punishment. Subsequently MALI's leaders began receiving death threats.

(See: Mohammedia: An Abortive Attempt to a Public Breakfast in Ramadan. 16 Sept 2009
Public fast Breaking Protest during Ramadan in Morocco. 17 Sept 2009
Death Threats and Arrests for Facebook Ramadan Fast Break Protesters. 17 Sept 2009)

According to Human Rights Watch, MALI explained its objectives in a statement issued on 17 September 2009:
"MALI is not a group that is against Islam. We are for freedom of religion: In calling for the abrogation of a repressive article of the penal code (article 222), we also support Tunisian women who are attacked for wearing the headscarf. ... MALI is not an organization that seeks to provoke any community. Our goal is to draw attention to contradictions between international law, Morocco's constitution, and the country's laws, contradictions that are costly to Morocco's citizens and that undermine collective and individual freedoms."

The Moroccan Association of Human Rights is very concerned about Ms Zineb El-Rhazoui, who has been 'disappeared' since 17 September 2009.
Public fast breaking Protest leader Disappeared. 27 Sept 2009


The persecution of MALI indicates that the issue goes deeper than state anxiety over conversions and church growth. It is quite common to find governments seeking to contain Islamists, appeasing Islamists. It is like a barter system: if you do this for us, then we'll do that for you. In fact this system of costly containment is utilized widely from London to Riyadh, Amsterdam to Algiers, Brussels to Jakarta etc etc etc. So quite possibly, this is what is happening in Morocco.

ANALYSIS-Moroccan political elite moves to thwart Islamists
By Lamine Ghanmi
RABAT, 5 March 2010 (Reuters)

Morocco's Gentle War On Terror
TIME magazine
By Tim McGirk / Wednesday, Aug. 06, 2008