After Israel, Will Morocco Normalize with Christians?
As fledgling local church movement lauds increased ties with the Jewish state, Moroccan believers debate if official recognition of their faith is needed at home.
President Donald Trump’s Abraham Accords have been singular in focus—build Middle East peace upon Arab states establishing full relations with Israel.
And although not officially linked, three of the four nations to normalize with the Jewish state this year received something from the United States in return.
The first, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was cleared to purchase American F-35 fighter jets. (The second, Bahrain, which already hosts a US naval base, is understood to be part of a gradual Gulf alignment with Israel.)
The third, Sudan, was removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.
This month, the fourth, Morocco, was granted US recognition of its longstanding claim to the Western Sahara, a mostly desert region on the northwest coast of Africa, which seeks independence.
But absent from the accords is any emphasis on religious freedom, despite the Trump administration making it a central feature of its foreign policy. And in relation to Christians, each nation has a unique situation.
Bahrain has a native Christian population of about 1,000 people, descended from communities in Lebanon, Syria, and India. Three years ago, its king signed a declaration esteeming individual “freedom of [religious] choice” as a “divine gift.”
Sudan’s Christians, though only 3 percent of the population, are indigenous citizens. And following the 2019 popular revolution, Sudan implemented religious reforms, including repeal of its apostasy law.
Morocco is in between.
Long lauded for its treatment of …
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March 09, 2021