An Appeal Court in Fez overturned a conviction against a Christian convert from Islam because of lack of evidence. He had been sentenced to 30 months in prison for alleged proselytising.
ruling was issued last Thursday and the file should be closed next Thursday.
Baladi, 31, was arrested on 28 August in the town of Ain Aicha (Taounate
province), about 80 km from Fez, on charges of proselytising after he was
accused of trying to push two young Muslims to convert.
his home, where they seized several Christian CDs, books and magazines.
raid, they insulted El Baladi for leaving Islam and tried to force him to
reveal names of other converts to Christianity.
Later, it was
revealed that the accusation of proselytising had come from El Baladi's uncle, who
was opposed to his conversion to Christianity.
On 3 September,
a court in Taounate sentenced El Baladi to 30 months in prison and a fine of
1,500 Moroccan dirhams (about US$ 182).
groups slammed the ruling because the accused was denied legal counsel and
received a fine that exceeded the maximum allowed by law. The penalty for
violating Morocco's penal code is six months to three years in prison and fines
of up to 500 dirhams.
El Baladi was eventually
able to show that his talk with two young Muslims was not designed to convert
them, but to explain his reasons for conversion.
penal code, it is illegal for anyone to employ "incitements to shake the
faith of a Muslim or to convert him to another religion;" however, just talking
about one's faith is not generally considered proselytising.
Several Muslim countries
impose the death penalty for apostasy and condemn proselytising. However, this
is not the case of Morocco.
According to the
Morning Star News, a US-based evangelical
news service, "a quiet Christian convert is unlikely to run into problems other
than from family".
However, if more
zealous converts try to tell others about their faith they might be monitored
by police, especially in rural areas or small cities.
Such a liberal interpretation
of Islamic law is rather rare in the Islamic world, but it tends to cause negative
reactions among fundamentalists.
In 2012, Morocco's
Ulema (Islamic scholars) High Council issued a fatwa calling for the execution
of converts from Islam.
For now, the fatwa
has not been followed up.
in recent years, the government has expelled dozens of Evangelical Christians from
the country after accusing them of proselytising.