Moroccan Christians share their faith on YouTubeWritten by Subby Szterszky
What's inside this article
Christians in Morocco are going public about their faith in a big way. A YouTube channel called Moroccan and Christian features a series of short podcasts by Moroccan believers recorded in Darija, the native Arabic language of Morocco.
The videos are aimed at that country’s mostly Muslim populace, intended to dispel myths about the Christians who live among them and about the Christian faith as a whole.
Despite being in Arabic, these podcasts might well serve a similar function for non-believers – and believers – in the English-speaking West. Even without the words, they express a number of traits that are essential to authentic Christianity.
In Morocco, it’s not against the law to be a Christian. It is, however, against the law to proselytize, to try to convert Muslims to any other faith. And while Morocco has an official policy of religious freedom, this is often ignored at a grassroots level. Hence even though these Moroccan Christians are merely seeking to clarify their faith, they’re taking a considerable risk by airing their views on YouTube.
For Christians in the West, posting their beliefs on social media might get them unfriended or subjected to verbal attacks from Internet trolls. It may lead to tense conversations with co-workers or family members who don’t share their faith. But for these Moroccans, there’s the possibility of stiff fines or prison sentences or even worse at the hands of their non-Christian neighbours. It requires a level of courage that the church has often been called to display, a courage that only the Spirit of God can inspire.
Kindness and respect
Although the podcasts contain moments of heightened emotion, their overall tone is best described as calm, respectful dialogue. There’s no defensiveness or polemical contention on display here, but rather a positive, friendly attitude. The speakers seem intent to connect with their audience, to explain their faith and the difficulties they face without complaining or playing the victim. Iman, the woman in the first video posted to the channel, concludes by assuring her listeners, “I love you all.”
It’s a gracious approach to Christian witness, and it provides a healthy model for Christians everywhere, especially for those who face less challenging circumstances than these Moroccan believers.
For the most part, the subjects of these videos appear to be comparatively young, urban and educated. This goes against a popular cliché in Moroccan culture that Christian converts are poor and ignorant, deceived by foreign promises of wealth and a better life. In one sense, it’s not that different from the secular stereotype common in Western societies, which views Christians as generally unsophisticated people who’ve bought into an outmoded belief system.
Nevertheless, the example of these Moroccan believers puts the lie to such clichés, whether in Muslim lands or the secular West. The message isn’t that Christianity requires a certain level of education. It’s rather that thoughtful, intelligent discourse is a vital component of the Christian life.
There’s good reason why the creators of these podcasts chose to call them Moroccan and Christian. It’s to combat the assumption, prevalent in their country, that Moroccans are all Muslim and the Christians among them are all foreigners – perhaps unwelcome foreigners, to boot.
But that sort of assumption is by no means limited to Morocco. In most of the world, religions are associated with particular cultures, and Christianity is often viewed in a similar way – as inextricably tied to Western civilization. This is despite the fact that most Western countries are now essentially secular and the church’s centre of gravity has been steadily shifting southward and eastward for decades.
Indeed, the Christian faith is unique in that it transcends all cultures. The Gospel message invites and welcomes people of every tribe, tongue and nation.
Iman and her friends offer a sublime illustration of this reality. They’re Moroccan by birth and Christian by choice, but they still love their people and their land. They speak a language that most people – including their own – associate with Islam, but they use it to express their faith in Christ. They don’t fit any of the stereotypical images of the American evangelical, the old world Catholic, or the third world convert of Western missionaries.
Simply put, they make a powerful argument for the universal appeal of the Christian faith. And they do so whether we understand their words or not.
Sources and further reading
Julia A. Seymour, “Moroccan Christians risk persecution with YouTube testimonies,” World Magazine, August 1, 2016.
Ali Hassan Eddehbi, “I, Iman, a Moroccan Christian, love you all,” Morocco World News, June 4, 2016.
Myriam Ait Malk, “Moroccan Christian convert sparks anger on YouTube,” Morocco World News, June 20, 2016.
YouTube channel, Moroccan and Christian, podcasts are approximately five minutes long, in Arabic.
© 2016 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.
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