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International Christian Concern 2020 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, #941 Washington, DC 20006 301-585-5915 ♦ icc@persecution.org

PETITION CALLING FOR THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF JAMAA AIT BAKRIM

Ambassador Mohamed Rachad Bouhlal Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco 1601 21st Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20009 October 3, 2012, Dear Ambassador Bouhlal, It is with great concern that we petition your government for the immediate release of Mr. Jamaa Ait Bakrim. Mr. Bakrim is a convert to Christianity and was imprisoned almost 7 years ago in Prison Centrale, Kenitra, Morocco for his faith. Mr. Bakrim (prisoner number 26574) was convicted on December 28th, 2005 by the Court of First Process in Agadir of “proselytism” and the “destruction of goods of others.” He was subsequently given a 15 year prison sentence. Before this ruling, Mr. Bakrim had also served more than a year in prison for another conviction of so called “proselytism”. Yet Mr. Bakrim’s true crime is his refusal to deny his Christian faith and his willingness to confess it publicly. The majority of his 15 year sentence is a result of ostensibly destroying the “goods of others”, but in reality Mr. Bakrim simply burned two defunct electrical poles near his property that had not been used in several years, an act for which he first sought permission. Local authorities clearly used this act as an excuse to have Mr. Bakrim arrested and given a much longer sentence than was commensurate with the “crime” he committed. Furthermore Article 220 of the Moroccan Penal Code, which was used to convict Mr. Bakrim of “proselytism”, is poorly defined and is often used to completely suppress the right of anyone to speak openly about any religious belief other than Islam. At no time did Mr. Bakrim “employ incitements” to “seduce” Muslims into converting to Christianity. He was however open about the fact that he practiced the Christian faith, something that was apparently inconvenient to his neighbors and local authorities. Ironically Mr. Bakrim’s right as a Moroccan citizen to practice whatever faith he chooses is also protected under Article 220 of the Moroccan Penal Code, which states that “any attempt to stop one or more persons from the exercise of their religious beliefs…is unlawful and may be punished by 3 to 6 months imprisonment.” Mr. Bakrim’s imprisonment is also a major violation of Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees his right to manifest his individual beliefs in public or private. Morocco ratified the ICCPR on March 27th, 1979 and is therefore bound by its provisions. Mr. Ambassador we ask that you take immediate steps to secure the release of Mr. Jamaa Ait Bakrim. His case represents a flagrant lack of concern for the basic human rights of Morocco’s people and his extended sentence is the most severe against a Christian in recent memory. No one should have to live in fear that they will end up spending years of their life behind prison walls simply because of their religious beliefs. Mr. Bakrim’s release will demonstrate not only a decision by your government to correct a gross injustice, but also to honor the international commitment it made more than 30 years ago to protect the religious freedom of its citizens. Sincerely, International Christian Concern (and attached) CC: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Senator Richard Lugar, Ranking Republican Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Congressman Howard L. Berman, Ranking Democratic Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs


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JamaaMorocco2012  

http://www.persecution.org/pdf/JamaaMorocco2012.pdf

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