A British pastor is calling for genuine freedom of religion in Morocco after he was refused entry to the country and interrogated regarding informal meetings with Moroccan Christians.
Colin Dye, senior leader of Kensington Temple, a multiracial Pentecostal church in Notting Hill, London, arrived in Fez-Sais from London on Friday, April 6 but was stopped, held overnight and put on a plane to Rome the following day despite the intervention of three Moroccan human rights lawyers. He was told he was barred from entering the country.
Dye has been meeting with evangelical house church leaders in Morocco for prayer and encouragement and has spent a few days each month there for the last three months with no hindrance.
Morocco officially has freedom of religion, but in practice it is a conservative Muslim country. Although spontaneous conversion from Islam to Christianity is not illegal, the criminal code prohibits attempts by non-Muslims to 'shake the faith' of citizens from Sunni Islam and punishes anyone who 'employs enticements' to undermine the faith of a Muslim or to convert a Muslim to another religion with six months to three years imprisonment.
However, Dye – who also teaches on an Arabic TV channel called Kingdom Sat – told Christian Today he was there to minister to the church leaders.
According to human rights organisations and local Christian leaders, the government has occasionally detained and questioned Moroccan Christians about their beliefs and contacts with other Christians, and there have been reports of the authorities pressurising Christians to renounce their faith.
Dye told Christian Today: 'I am asking for Morocco to put its own constitution into practice and allow freedom of religion.'