A conference on freedom for religious minorities was held on Saturday in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, despite being met with intransigence by authorities.
The organisers of the conference, from Tanweer movement, decided to hold their conference at the headquarters of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights after the authorities intervened to prevent it from being organised at the East-West Foundation, which focuses on refugee and immigrant issues.
For an overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim country, which once had a large Jewish population, the conference was highly controversial due to concerns over its motives, especially as there is no official recognition of Moroccans who change religion.
The organisers and religious minority advocates asked the government to clarify laws concerning freedom of worship.
“The state still places barriers when it comes to legal reforms concerning minorities,” Jawad el Hamidi, the coordinator of the Moroccan Commission of Religious Minorities, told AFP. “There is a kind of fear of opening this door and having a discussion – even civil society is still reluctant to talk freely about this topic.”
“We suffer repression and harassment,” said Hamidi, adding that some media had referred to those at the conference as “atheists” and “homosexuals”.
Attendees see the conference as a small step towards achieving religious freedom in Morocco, which suffers from an intolerance of religious diversity.