Morocco is one of the most popular travel destinations of the Arab world. Its hot climate and close proximity to Europe combined with a hint of the exotic are highly appealing to travellers and holidaymakers alike. Yet, for all its beauty and accessibility, Morocco has its own underlying problems. What may seem to be a more liberal society isn’t quite so…
Society and politics
While not conservative, Morocco is an Islamic country, and while not wholly undemocratic, the Moroccan king is very much the head of state. Pessimism and negative feelings are widespread. Many feel that there is too much corruption, greed and distrust in society, and are critical of themselves, the government and the king.
You would be forgiven for supposing that the Arab Awakening skipped Morocco, but that is not altogether true. In February of last year, a youth-led movement brought about some reform, which seems to have sated most people’s appetite for change, for now.
According to statistics, 99 percent of Moroccans are Muslim, which is no great surprise. But did you know that it is unlawful for a Muslim to become a Christian? Religious freedom is definitely limited. Believers from a Muslim background face numerous problems including difficulty gaining employment, opposition from family and harassment from the police.
Another, perhaps surprising, side to Morocco is the influence of Folk Islam. Even in Morocco’s larger cities, people take part in occult practises, which include giving curses and the evil eye, fearing Jinn (genies) or demons, and wearing or displaying the hand of Fatima for protection. The influence of the occult is everywhere and affects many people. Folk Islam is a stronghold that needs to be broken.
Perceptions of Christianity
Most Moroccans have had no contact with a Christian, so their knowledge of Christianity is limited and often misguided. Outside influences, through the news and other media, add to these misconceptions. They see the West go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan and wrongly assume that Christians are against Islam. They watch our films and listen to our music, and these lead them to believe that Christians are immoral.
How can we make a difference?
Prayer is the most powerful tool.
- Pray for societal change and political progress.
- Pray for religious freedom.
- Pray for the thousand or so Moroccan believers to stand firm and be bold.
- Pray that spiritual strongholds would be broken – that fear and superstition would diminish in practise and in power.
- Finally, pray that all Moroccans might know that Christianity is not political, that it spans cultures, and that even they can follow Christ if they so choose.