Sunday, June 13, 2010

Anti-Obama lobby throws Morocco to the wolves

The Morocco Board reports that in the US, House of Representatives Tom Lantos, Human Rights Commission, which is chaired by James McGovern (Democrat, Maryland) with ranking Republican congressman Frank Wolf (Republican, Virginia), will hold a hearing on human rights and religious freedom in Morocco on Thursday June 17th, 2010.

The hearing will be open to the press and the public. The reason for the hearings, according to the commission, is the deportation of approximately 40 American citizens and scores of other foreign nationals on charges of proselytism, thus “it has raised serious concerns about the status of religious freedom in Morocco”.

The individuals deported, according to a statement from the commission, ran a wide array of humanitarian organisations, which provided services vital to the community. One of the organisations targeted was the Village of Hope, an orphanage that takes in children that have been abandoned by their parents (see our story here).

A statement from the commission cited an article by Time Magazine that said, “The Village of Hope deportations are part of what appears to be a widespread crackdown on Christian aid workers in Morocco.”

Also cited as an example is the Freedom House’s annual Freedom in the World Report, which noted “a backsliding in Morocco on a host of other democracy and human rights issues over the course of the last year”.

Republican Frank Wolf spearheaded the hearings. He is a long time critic of Morocco and a proponent of Algeria-backed Western Sahara Separatists; he is also considered to be a friend of the Christian Fundamentalist lobby on the Hill.

According to local sources, congressman Frank Wolf has recently met with representatives of Morocco in Washington. During the meeting he became so irritated and furious that he shouted at the Moroccans who were taken aback by the intensity of the Congressman’s emotions. He also threatened, during the meeting, to work to cancel the US Morocco free trade agreement and he flatly stated that Morocco is “no friend of the US”.

Later on, when a fellow Christian fundamentalist leader and a friend of Morocco called on the congressman to inquire about the issue, the congressman was again furious and called the Christian leader a “traitor” for sympathizing with Morocco. The congressman subsequently called on US State Department Secretary Hillary Clinton to cancel Morocco’s Share of the $700m Millennium Fund.

The witnesses that are invited to speak on the hill are Katie Zoglin, senior program manager of Freedom House, 
Michael Cloud, president of Association Nichan, Herman Boonstra, leader of the Village of Hope in Ain Leuh , Morocco, 
Mr. & Mrs. Eddie and Lynn Padilla, foster parents at the Village of Hope and Dr. Sandra Bunn-Livingstone, executive director of Jus Cogens LLC.

The hearings will take place at the 2325 Rayburn House Office Building at 1-3 p.m. on June 17th, 2010.

Our politics correspondent, Ibn Warraq, has this to say about the hearings:

Morocco is an Islamic society, with the King as defender of the faith. When people of other faiths come to Morocco to work in NGOs or aid organisations, they sign a paper declaring that they will not proselytise. These Christians broke the law - it's as simple as that. Why doesn't the US hold a similar hearing for Saudi Arabia? I imagine they wouldn't be too keen on evangelising Christians, either.

By holding this hearing, the US risks alienating one of its few moderate Muslim allies and playing into the hands of the Islamists, who will use it as an example of how the Americans are trying to take over Morocco with Christianity and need to be actively resisted. It's a very stupid move.

It also does not seem fair that the hearing doesn't appear to include testimony from the Moroccan point of view.

A small incident with inflexible American missionaries knowingly violating Moroccan law should not overshadow more than 200 years of good relations between Morocco and America.

The United States should show respect for Morocco's Islamic religious beliefs, while recognizing that Morocco has long respected the rights of Christians and Jews to maintain and practise (but not proselytize) their religious beliefs.

Good relations with Morocco are essential to good relations with the Arab World.

Morocco is an essential ally in the "War on Terror."

Morocco has played an instrumental role in attempting to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

As a valued ally of the United States, Morocco should be subject to gentle persuasion from the United States on the issue of religious freedom, not condemnation. If the Congressman thinks that Morocco has not acted appropriately, he should approach the Moroccans from the point of view of a counselor to a dear but misguided friend, not as an enemy.

Let's take a look at this congressman Wolf. It is disturbing to think that someone in his position thinks he gains credibility when he says he supports groups such as the Algerian-backed Western Sahara Separatists. In addition, his links with Christian Fundamentalist lobby groups should immediately set alarm bells ringing. Let us all remember that fundamentalism of any kind, Islamic, Hindu, Jewish or Christian, is a problem we all need to deal with.

Freedom of speech is a right Congressman Wolf enjoys, but he needs to remember that with such a right comes responsibility to use that freedom wisely. Sadly there is no sign that he has an interest in anything other than destabilising Obama.


Jack said...

I think that what hasn't been clear from all of this is what the definition of proselytism is according to Moroccan law. As I understand it, the law actually defines it as the paid or forced/coerced conversion of a Moroccan. I think it would be hard to indict those expelled if that is in fact that case. Secondly, you article said that these people "broke the law, it's as simple as that." If this is true, then there should have been no problem in providing them due process, presenting the evidence against them, and THEN expelling them. However, this has not been the case. No evidence has been presented against the now more than 100 Koreans, New Zealanders, English, French, American, Mexicans and other Latinos who have been expelled. If these people had broken the law, and been found guilty in a court of law, I would guess that this coming hearing would not be taking place.

Piggy said...

You are so right Jack.
As an atheist I look at all religions as the same. The worship of a 'thing' in the hope that all the bad things we all do in our life will not get in the way of going to a nice place when we die.
Why do Muslims, Christians and Jews who all believe in basically the same 'god' worry about each others beliefs?
Live and let live!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately your correspondent has done exactly what the Moroccan gov't did which is to consider people guilty without any due process nor presentation of proof that these people broke the law nor were these people given any opportunity to defend their names against these accusations. It's quite surprising how far the acceptance of injustice can go when someone has their own agenda. I wonder how M. Ibn Warraq would feel if he was expelled from a country in the same way for certain values he holds?
I have been following this situation very closely and these people were not just NGO workers but many were businessmen and teachers as well. I think it is quite logical for these congressional hearings to take place because if people coming into Morocco can be expelled at any time with no due process and no proof presented that they broke the law then it is unfair for foreign Christians to go and work and invest in Morocco without being warned of this huge risk.
Due to the magnitude of this action (well over 100 foreign Christians being expelled) I think it is quite obvious that this is an anti-Christian action and not the breaking of proselytism laws as stated in in Morocco's own laws and which "Jack" so clearly stated. If Morocco's definition of proselytism has changed then they need to change their laws to reflect that but as it stands Morocco has no law against people discussing their faith with others. And if it is illegal for Christians to discuss their faith with Muslims (with no enticements) then Morocco should not be considered a country that embraces religious freedom since religious dialogue is at the core of the free exercise of one's faith.

xoussef said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Krista. Germany said...

What a wonderful and balanced discussion. Although I support the Moriccan position I appreciate the range if views. Thank you

Wald Lblad said...

To Jack Wd,
Why don't you tell people that two Moroccan orphans were subjugated by Village of hope Evangelicals to an auction!! Here is the story from inside the Village of Hope:

Multinational auction of Moroccan infants: Muslim infants on sale for the first time in history

What is Village of hope! It is a plan. Moreover it is a conspirational, wicked representational effort reflecting the most iniquitous and devilish character of the talents, skills, abilities, and processes designed and implemented by Evangelicals to effectively operate in Muslim countries. Their efforts included affiliations, relationships, courtesy along with undercover destruction of the whole value system of Muslim countries, in our case Morocco. They have a keen eye on the end product of achieving goals, objectives, and effective results to meet the changing needs of poor, illiterate and even, at least to them, "benighted” Ishmaelites. Of course, within their so-called fellowship, the Evangelicals overseas provide instructional and supportive services which the masterminds of civilizational chaos and cross-cultural wickedness make use of in pursuit of their Machiavellian goals.

Chris Broadbent and his disciples were not merely charismatic superhuman Satans as some of us used to think. Rather, they were a horde of pathetic schizoid men who had a demented vision of “purifying” the gene pool of Morocco by inseminating hatred in little innocent Muslim children. They tried aimlessly to achieve their sick goals by exercising total control over their innocent subjects in the suburbs of Ain Leuh. Acts of brainwashing were cherished inside the destitution. In other words, their ambitions, backed by their psychic numbness, justified in their deranged minds all acts of cruelty.
A few years ago, a stunning children auction took place at the hearth of the Village of Hope three miles outside Ain Leuh, Morocco. Two little innocent orphans were put on the auction block. Word of the sale had spread throughout the Evangelical world for weeks, drawing potential buyers from the four corners of the world. Village of Hope institution and other lodging spaces were quickly appropriated by the influx of visitors. In the days running up to the auction, the VOH underwent daily inspections to inspect, evaluate and determine an appropriate price for the human merchandise on display.

As Muslims, this is the first time we hear of children being sold. The rules of the auction stipulated that the kids would be sold to Evangelical "families" - defined as a husband and wife and any offspring. However, there was no guarantee that this rule would be adhered to in this case. The sale gained such renown that it attracted the attention of eminent evangelicals overseas, some of whom are descendants of the early Puritans.
We want to reveal to our readers the barbarity inherent in these proselytisers' ability to own and sell innocent little Muslim children.

More news about VOH can be found at:

QuizMasterChris said...

Something very important here is that Freedom House is a right-wing American organization that has a very, very narrow definition of "human rights." It's been hijacked by neocons.

Basically in the wake of Amnesty International's exposure of the genocidal crimes of many of America's allies in the 80s, notably in Central America, the right took over FH and use it to push the notion that when American Christian right wingers get bounced from a country where they are trying to convert people to Christianity, this is as bad as killing tens of thousands of people who want to form a union or redistribute their arable land.

Many people are probably confused between Amnesty International and Freedom House, which is exactly what the latter wants.

Often I suspect that these Christians are receiving support either directly or indirectly from US intelligence agencies. They usually push a form of passive, individualized evangelical Christianity which is meant to counter social movements of the sort strengthened by, for example, Liberation Theology Catholicism or politicized Islam.

Good for Morocco that they deport these people! Like Mark Twain (read *him* on the subject!), I consider this religious intrusion to be counter to the spirit of good American and world citizenship.

I'll add some info by this article, which is far from the only dirt on Freedom House you'll find online:

khadija said...

I have known, visited, befriended the kind souls that ran the orphanage at Ain Leuh for several years in the late '70s and throughout the '80s. They were true Missionaries. The Government of Morocco gave the Missionaries free reign, including rearing the children in the Christian Faith. I have been away from Morocco (I am of Morrocan Berber descent) for many years, but visit occasionally. I am astonished at the "quality" of the "new missionaries" who I equate more with a Sect than a branch of Christianism: Super Evangelicals, extreme right (US), who are not loathe to use monetary compensation/support to convert. I know: I rode on the train from Fez to a town in the south that will remain unamed. I was tired and closed my eyes. US companions in the same Train car that we shared spoke freely about their "strategy", unaware that I could understand English. Freaky! There is a "Plan", and it is nefarious to Christianity foremost. As to "new converts", hey, the Evangelicals could stay, for all I care, as long as they wish. They are taken for a ride, and hopefully contribute to the Kingdom's economy.

khadija Ouahmane, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Free Will said...

In Ain Leuh, people started to become sick of the arrogance and brutal malice of VOH proselytizers, simply because they do not honour Muslims nor do they respect the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him.
It mattered not much to the VOH staff who was right or wrong. They neither knew nor cared that their corrupt chief has displeased his mentors overseas because he could not control his outpost. It mattered only that an entire population of 33 little Muslim kids had to be brainwashed. It was already an issue of Islam versus Zionist Christianity. The chief’s education had been very basic. He had learned the Biblical verses necessary for converting innocent poor Muslims, even though, it is said; he could not understand those verses well. The other estranged members of the institution knew nothing of the cold war between Herman, Errol, Chris and Eddie. But they were told that the Elites are great comrades now, which made perfect sense for the senseless.
Before the Evangelicals became mature, it was clear that they would still not do one thing that has always been impossible for them: UNITE. This caused much mumbling and groaning amongst the godfathers of the Evangelical mission in Ain Leuh and overseas, especially that they knew they wouldn’t survive another winter in Morocco. It was sheer nonsense for most of them: The landscape they see was completely shattered.
As patriotic Moroccans, VOH reminded us of the early colonists. They used to deliver one and only one message: “We were sent to you. Come with us: you may embark with us any time for happiness together, after pain, after long years of poverty. Make a prayer and this is our grant.”
VOH is history now. The wolf pack & the swineherd are finally “scattered” back to where they belong.

Amian said...

I should just like to clarify further Khadija's post. The two dear ladies she knew and respected, who brought up their (Moroccan)family in Ain Leuh from 1951 until approximately 1997, had nothing to do with the Village of Hope group which was recently expelled. As Khadija indicates, these ladies (Miss Doran and Miss Coats) were much loved and respected locally. They did not set out to acquire any children, but after some years eventually accepted that God wanted them to bring up those given over to them by loving Moroccan parents in difficulty. They never solicited money or publicised their Ain Leuh family in any way. They always welcomed the children's natural relatives. They wanted those of their children who still had need to be able to remain in the family home after their deaths, but it was taken over by Village of Hope ten years ago, and at the time that VoH was expelled, none of those remaining original children were being allowed to live on the property - not even in humble shacks - despite the pleas of their older siblings living elsewhere (totally ignored). VoH had long pulled down their family home and built big villas on the land, hugely luxurious compared with the relative poverty of many of their Moroccan neighbours.

The kindest thing one can say about VoH is that their crass insensitivity beggars belief - that one of their personnel was observed peddling VoH calendars at Miss Doran's funeral in 2007, in full view of her grieving adult Moroccan children, is entirely characteristic. Whatever may be the political rights and wrongs of the present situation, it really is not surprising that the VoH was told to leave, or that many of the local villagers seem glad to see the back of them.

The subsequent international outcry and protest encouraged by VoH has done nothing but harm. Some of us who used to live there previously have asked them and their 'supporters' to cease doing this for the sake of other vulnerable folk who may remain, but in their apparent arrogance they have ignored these requests. It is upsetting and frustrating that VoH, headed by Herman Boonstra, constantly traded on the reputations of Miss Doran and Miss Coats for its own ends, wrongly claiming that these two wonderful ladies 'started' the VoH in 1951, and openly putting up a plaque there with their pictures on, without their permission or that of their Moroccan children. Miss Doran and Miss Coats had the utmost respect for the Moroccan authorities. They would have been deeply distressed by the actions of VoH and its supporters, and we can only be grateful that they were and are unaware of these.