The deportation of aid workers from Morocco highlights both the major role that Christian aid organizations play in a number of Muslim nations and local anxieties that aid efforts are cover for covert proselytizing. On Wednesday, gunmen killed six Pakistani staffers for the Christian aid group World Vision working on a development project for survivors of a 2005 earthquake outside of Islamabad. World Vision spent $1 billion on aid projects around the world in 2009.
Moroccan officials say they’re merely targeting isolated instances of law-breaking.
“This is not a move against Christians, it’s a move against people who don’t respect the law of this country,” said Morocco’s Communication Minister Khalid Naciri in a telephone interview.
But Christians see a sudden, coordinated campaign that has reversed an unwritten understanding.
In principle, Christian groups are allowed to do charitable work here so long as they don’t try converting Muslims, who make up 98 percent of the population. In practice, hundreds of foreign Christians have been quietly spreading their faith in Morocco for years, says Jean-Luc Blanc, head of the Casablanca-based Evangelical Church of Morocco.
In the past, Mr. Blanc said the government would typically deport one or two missionaries per year whom it judged to have crossed the line. But in his nine years here, Blanc says he hasn’t seen a mass expulsion like this. “Since I’ve been in Morocco, never,” he said.