Morocco has ordered dozens of Christian aid workers in five major cities to be deported this week, with a Western official saying there may be another wave. The expulsions call into question an unspoken but longstanding truce.
Moroccan authorities have ordered dozens of foreign Christian aid workers deported in at least five major cities this week, calling into question an unspoken but long-standing truce between missionaries and their Muslim hosts.
“This is a change in policy from the top of the government,” says Jack Wald, who has spent 10 years as pastor of Rabat International Church, a protestant congregation here in the capital. “It’s like going to sleep, waking up, and all of the sudden you’re in a different country.”
The largest incident took place at an orphanage for 33 abandoned children in the Middle Atlas mountains on Monday. Moroccan police showed up in the village of Ain Leuh, located 50 miles south of the ancient city of Fez, and separated orphans from their adoptive parents before delivering a grim piece of news: the Moroccan authorities had accused the volunteers of spreading Christianity – a crime in this overwhelmingly Muslim nation.
Witnesses described an anguished scene as Dutch, British, Kiwi, and American volunteers hastily emptied households under stormy skies and hugged weeping Moroccan kids for the last time.
“The wind was howling... but that was nothing compared to the wailing of the children,” said one foreign witness, who asked not to be named, saying she feared reprisals from Moroccan authorities. “I’ve never heard a sound like that in my entire life.”
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