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Christians expelled, Morocco and US spar over religious freedom

A congressional committee is holding a hearing today on religious freedom in Morocco, which expelled nearly 100 Christian foreigners in March. Morocco is investigating an American school that parents have accused of spreading Christianity.

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Months after Morocco deported nearly 100 Christian foreigners, the US Congress and Morocco are sparring over religious freedom, with both countries opening investigations that could strain relations between the two allies.

On Thursday, a congressional human rights commission is scheduled to hold a hearing on the status of religious freedom in Morocco, which receives nearly $700 million of American aid through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

Rep. Tom Wolf (R) of Virginia, co-chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, urged suspension of MCC funding β€œto a nation which blatantly disregards the rights of American citizens residing in Morocco and forcibly expels American citizens without due process of law" in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

That's unlikely to happen, since the US closely cooperates in military and antiterrorist programs with Morocco and has a long-standing free trade agreement with the country.

But some Moroccans, too, are upset with the US.

Moroccans are asking if American missionaries were secretly – and illegally – spreading Christianity among the poor. Some charge that an American school advertised as secular was inculcating Christian beliefs in students. That has angered many Muslims here and fueled a debate on how religion should be taught in a globalizing world. The case is currently under investigation by Moroccan police.

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