Moroccan Christians share their faith on YouTubeWritten by Subby Szterszky
What's inside this article
Christians in Morocco have been going public about their faith in a big way. A YouTube channel called Moroccan and Christian features a series of short video podcasts by Moroccan believers recorded in Darija, the native Arabic language of Morocco.
The videos are aimed at that country’s majority Muslim population, 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 may serve a similar function among non-believers – as well as believers – in the English-speaking world. Even if one doesn’t understand their words, these followers of Jesus exhibit a number of character 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 major risk by airing their views on YouTube.
For Christians in the Western world, posting our beliefs on social media might get us unfriended by non-believing acquaintances or subjected to verbal attacks from Internet trolls. It may lead to tense conversations with co-workers or family members who don’t share our faith.
But for these Moroccan believers, there’s the risk of stiff fines or prison sentences or even worse at the hands of their non-Christian neighbours. It requires a level of courage that members of the church have often been called to exercise, 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 presenting themselves as victims. Iman, the woman in the first video posted to the channel, concludes by assuring her viewers, “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 brothers and sisters.
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 a sense, it’s not that different from the secular stereotype common in Western societies, which depicts Christians as simple folk who’ve bought into an outmoded belief system.
Even so, the example of these Moroccan believers puts the lie to such clichés, whether in Muslim lands or in the secular West. The message isn’t that being a Christian requires a certain standard of education. It’s rather that thoughtful, intelligent discourse is a vital component of the Christian life.
There’s a good reason why the creators of these video 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, on top of it.
But that sort of assumption is by no means limited to Morocco. In most of the world, religions are associated with specific cultures and Christianity is often seen as inextricably connected to Western civilization. This despite the fact that most Western countries have long been secularized and the church’s global centre of gravity has been 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 nation, tribe, people and language.
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 country. 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 Christians, whether 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 about five minutes long, in Arabic.
Subby Szterszky is the managing editor of Focus on Faith and Culture, an e-newsletter produced by Focus on the Family Canada.
© 2016 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.
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