Christianity in Morocco

Roman Catholic Cathedral of Rabat

Christians in Morocco constitute approximately less than 1%[1] (less than 336,000) of the country's population of 33,600,000 (2014 census). Most of them are Catholic and Protestants.

The U.S. State Department estimates the number of Moroccan Christians at between 5,000 and 25,000.[2] Pew-Templeton estimates the number of Moroccan Christians at 20,000.[3] The number of the Moroccans who converted to Christianity (most of them secret worshippers) are estimated between 8,000[4]-40,000.[5] Some sources estimates about 150,000 Muslim converted to Christianity in Morocco.[6]

Problematic characteristics

Article 3 of the Moroccan constitution "guarantees to all the free exercise of beliefs", but the Moroccan criminal code prohibits conversions to other religions than Islam. Conversions of Muslims to Christianity (either proselytization or apostasy) were often in colonial period because laws against such conversions didn't exist yet.

According to Article 220 of the Moroccan Penal Code, "anyone who employs incitements to shake the faith of a Muslim or to convert him to another religion" incurs a sentence of 3 to 6 months' imprisonment and a fine of 200 to 500 dirhams. Any attempt to induce a Muslim to convert is illegal. Foreign missionaries either limit their proselytizing to non-Muslims or attempt to conduct their work discreetly. In spite of these limitations, a 2015 study estimates some 3,000 believers in Christ from a Muslim background.[7] A popular Christian program by Brother Rachid has led many former Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East to convert to Christianity. His programs have been credited with assisting in the conversion of over 150,000 former Muslims to Christianity in Morocco.[8]


Christianity in Morocco appeared during the Roman times, when it was practiced by Christian Berbers in Roman Mauretania Tingitana, although it disappeared after the Islamic conquests.[9][10]

According to tradition, the martyrdom of St. Marcellus took place on 28 July 298 at Tingis (Tangier). Since the Tetrarchy (Emperor Diocletian's reform of governmental structures in 296), Mauretania Tingitana became part of the Diocese of Hispaniae (a Latin plural) and hence in the Praetorian Prefecture of the Gauls (Mauretania Caesariensis was in the diocese of Africa, in the other pretorian prefecture within the western empire), and remained so until its conquest by the Vandals. Lucilius Constantius is recorded as governor (praeses) in the mid to late fourth century.

Prior to independence, Morocco was home to half a million European Christians.[11] And during the French protectorate in Morocco European Christians formed almost half the population of the city Casablanca.[12] Later after the Independence in 1956, the European population has decreased substantially

In the last years of the 19th century; 250,000 Spaniard Catholics lived in Morocco at the beginning of the 20th century. Most Spaniards left Morocco after its independence in 1956 and their numbers were reduced to 13,000.[13][14]

Today the expatriate Christian community (Roman Catholic and Protestant) consists of 5,000 practicing members, although estimates of Christians residing in the country at any particular time range up to 25,000. Most Christians reside in the Casablanca, Tangier and Rabat urban areas.[15] The majority of Christians in Morocco are foreigners, although Voice of the Martyrs reports there is a growing number of native Moroccans (45,000) converting to Christianity, especially in the rural areas. Many of the converts are baptized secretly in Morocco’s churches.[16]

Roman Catholic

There are around 20,000 Catholics in Morocco, most of them are European expatriates, with a big majority of French and Spanish from colonization and post-independence, the second group is composed of Sub-Saharan immigrants, mainly students.


Whilst most areas of Africa (including eastern North Africa) have independent Anglican dioceses and provinces, the western part of North Africa, including the Anglican Church of Morocco, is part of the Diocese of Europe, which is itself part of the Province of Canterbury in the Church of England. There are two permanent chaplaincies, one in Casablanca and one in Tangier. Small groups of Anglicans have worshiped together in Marrakech, but there is no Anglican Church established here.

The Anglican Church of Saint Andrew, Tangier has become a tourist attraction, partly due to certain well-known figures buried in its churchyard.[17] The church is an early twentieth-century replacement for an earlier smaller building, which was built with the express permission of the King of Morocco, on land donated by him.

The Anglican Church of St John the Evangelist, Casablanca, is centrally located, near to the Hyatt Regency, a landmark hotel in the city centre. It has a well-established congregation, and holds two services every Sunday morning to accommodate all worshipers. There is a catechetical programme for children.[18]


On 27 March 2010, the Moroccan magazine TelQuel stated that thousands of Moroccans had converted to Christianity. Pointing out the absence of official data, Service de presse Common Ground, cites unspecified sources that stated that about 5,000 Moroccans became Christians between 2005 and 2010.[19] According to different estimates, there are about 25,000-45,000 Moroccan Berber or Arabized Berber descent mostly converted from Islam.[20] A popular Christian program by Brother Rachid has led many former Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East to convert to Christianity. His programs have been credited with assisting in the conversion of over 150,000 former Muslims to Christianity in Morocco.[21]


There are three functioning Orthodox Churches in Morocco: a Greek Orthodox Church in Casablanca and Russian Orthodox Churches in Rabat and Casablanca.[22]

There is a new parish of Orthodox Moroccans without a building, and the numbers are growing. Brothers Athanasios and Elia head this parish.[23]

See also

References and notes

  1. The World Factbook - Morocco
  2. International Religious Freedom Report - US Department of State
  3. Pew-Templeton - Global Religious Futures
  4. Christian Converts in Morocco Fear Fatwa Calling for Their Execution
  5. House-Churches' and Silent Masses —The Converted Christians of Morocco Are Praying in Secret
  6. Osservatorio Internazionale: "La tentazione di Cristo" April 2010
  7. Johnstone, Patrick; Miller, Duane Alexander (2015). "Believers in Christ from a Muslim Background: A Global Census". Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion. 11: 14. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  8. Osservatorio Internazionale: "La tentazione di Cristo" April 2010
  9. Cook, Paul David (January 2004). In these last days. Xlibris Corporation. p. 470. ISBN 1-4134-4102-5.
  10. Asiwaju, A.I. (January 1985). Partitioned Africans: Ethnic Relations Across Africa's International Boundaries. C. Hurst & Co. p. 237. ISBN 0-905838-91-2.
  11. De Azevedo, Raimondo Cagiano (1994) Migration and development co-operation.. Council of Europe. p. 25. ISBN 92-871-2611-9.
  12. Albert Habib Hourani, Malise Ruthven (2002). "A history of the Arab peoples". Harvard University Press. p.323. ISBN 0-674-01017-5
  13. Spain: Forging an Immigration Policy, Migration Information Source
  14. Joshua Project - Ethnic People Groups of Morocco
  15. International Religious Freedom Report 2008, U.S Department of State
  16. Converted Christians in Morocco Need Prayers
  17. See Tangier tourist website here for details.
  18. Referenced at this website.
  19. Morocco: General situation of Muslims who converted to Christianity, and specifically those who converted to Catholicism; their treatment by Islamists and the authorities, including state protection (2008-2011)
  20. Muslims Turn to Christ – ChristianAction
  21. Osservatorio Internazionale: "La tentazione di Cristo" April 2010
  22. Orthodox Church in Morocco

Further reading

External links

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