Morocco: Conviction of Convert from Islam Overturned

Monday, February 10, 2014

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

RABAT, MOROCCO (Worthy News)-- An appeals court in Morocco Thursday overturned a conviction against a Christian convert from Islam who had been sentenced to 30 months in prison for proselytizing, according to Morning Star News.

Although the Moroccan penal code defines proselytism as any attempt to stop anyone from exercising their religious beliefs, it is explicitly illegal for anyone to use "incitements to shake the faith of a Muslim, or to convert him to another religion."

However, the appeals court dismissed the case against Mohamed El Baladi on lack of evidence.

Security officials had arrested El Baladi in August after he allegedly proselytized two Muslim youths during a conversation with them about Christianity. During his arrest, police insulted El Baladi for leaving Islam and tried to force him to reveal the names of any Christian converts.

A week later, a court in Taounate found El Baladi guilty of attempting to incite one of the Muslims to leave Islam and sentenced El Baladi to 30 months in prison and a fine of 1,500 Moroccan dirhams. But human rights advocates said El Baladi was found guilty without any legal representation and was also given a fine exceeding that allowed by law.

Further, sources said that El Baladi was actually set up by an uncle who hired two teenage boys to feign an interest in Christianity; police then arrested El Baladi for proselytizing the minors after he met with them a second time.