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Christian converts in Morocco repeatedly arrested

by Premier Journalist

Christian converts in Morocco are being repeatedly arrested by police as part of a campaign to clamp down on the growth of the religion in the country.


Christian charity Aid to the Church in Need says Christian converts are being arrested up to three times a week and harassed at police stations.


While most are released after interrogation - they remain under pressure to return to Islam, and face abuse when they refuse.


Speaking to the Catholic charity, Jawad Elhamidy, president of the Moroccan Association of Rights and Religious Liberties said: "The penal code holds that all Moroccans are Muslims, so those who convert to Christianity face legal problems."


He added that spouses and children of converts also face arrest and those who have allegations of blasphemy made against them can be held for days.


Other than Islam, the only legally recognised religion in the country is Judaism - although foreign Christians living and working are permitted freedom of worship.


However, unlike foreign Christians, converts do not enjoy such freedoms: "If a Moroccan enters a church, one of two things can happen - either a policeman sitting in front of the church arrests him or her, or the cleric in charge of the church asks the person to leave, unless the purpose is tourism."  said Mr Elhamidy


There are estimated to be 40,000 foreign practising Christians in the country.


The number of indigenous Moroccan Christians is estimated at around 8,000, though some sources put that number as high as 25,000 out of a total population of 34.6 million.


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