Morocco
Kingdom of Morocco
August 16-17
Africa


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GEOGRAPHY

Area 458,730 sq.km. North-west corner of Africa. Fertile coastal areas in the north, barren Atlas mountains inland and Sahara Desert to south and south-east. A further 252,000 sq.km. of former Spanish Sahara claimed and occupied by Morocco in 1975.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 28,220,843 +1.78% 62 per sq. km.
2010 32,682,965 +1.37% 71 per sq. km.
2025 38,529,890 +1.03% 84 per sq. km.

Capital Rabat 1,675,000. Other major cities: Casablanca 3,350,000; Rabat 1,675,000; Fes 900,000; Marrakech 870,000. Urbanites 51%.

PEOPLES

The indigenous Berber were gradually conquered and subdued by the Muslim Arabs after 684AD.

Arabic-speaking 65%. Moroccan Arab 16 mill.; Jebala 1.8m; Algerian 200,000; Hassaniya 45,000.

Berber (Imazighen) 34%. Many dialects; 3 main languages: Tashilhayt (Ishilhayn, S. Shilha, Souss) 2.4m; Tamazight (C. Shilha) 2m; Tarifit (Rif) 1.3m.

Other 1%. French 80,000; Spanish 20,000; Jewish 15,000.

Literacy officially 44% (actually nearer 30%). Official language Arabic. French and English widely used. All languages 11. Languages with Scriptures 2Bi 3NT 1por.

ECONOMY

Agriculture, tourism and especially phosphate mining are important foreign exchange earners. Morocco and the Western Sahara have 70% of the world's phosphate reserves. The cost of the Sahara war has deeply affected the economy. Widespread poverty and high unemployment (50% for youth). Severe droughts in the 1980s and '90s. Millions of Moroccans seek work elsewhere – especially Europe. Significant oil deposits were discovered in 2000. HDI 0.582; 126th/174. Public debt 54% of GNP. Income/person $1,260 (4% of USA).

POLITICS

Independent in 1956 from French and Spanish rule. A limited democracy with an executive monarchy under King Hassan until his death in 1999. His successor, King Mohammed VI, instituted liberalizing changes which are opposed by hitherto-suppressed Islamists. The dominant political issue since the 'Green March' of 1975 has been the occupation of the Western Sahara and the subsequent warfare with the Saharawi and tension between the UN and Morocco about its future.

RELIGION

Sunni Islam is the state religion. The government is committed to the preservation of Islam as the religion of all Moroccans. Under the present constitution, a Moroccan church of former Muslims cannot be recognized. Other religious groups are tolerated so long as their ministry is confined to expatriate communities. Persecution index 10th in the world.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Muslim 99.85 28,178,512 +1.8%
Christian 0.10 28,221 -0.1%
Jewish 0.05 14,110 +1.8%

Over 95% of the Christians are not Moroccan in origin.

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 11 0.01 2 +1.1%
Independent 1 0.00 1 +4.1%
Anglican 1 0.00 0 +0.0%
Catholic 1 0.08 23 -0.5%
Orthodox 3 0.00 1 -2.6%

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Catholic C 46 12,849 23,000
Evang Reformed P 6 170 1,600
Other denoms [17]   40 1,672 3,174
Total Christians [19]   92 14,691 27,774

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 0.0 4 +0.9%
Charismatic 0.0 1 +1.2%

Challenges for Prayer

1 Islam was brought by invading Arab armies in the 7th Century. The once-strong North African, and largely Berber, Church was blotted out. Pride in Morocco's glorious past as a centre of civilization and Islamic learning, and prejudice against the truths of Scripture are barriers to the acceptance of the gospel. Probably no more than 5% of the population have had personal contact with the gospel. Pray that this nation may become open for the messengers of the gospel.

2 There are great expectations for change through the new King's efforts to encourage more democracy and improve the economy as well as the lot of the underprivileged. Drought, Islamist activism and the culture of corruption in the bureaucracy all could sabotage this. Pray for the King and those in government; for peace and stability.

3 Praise God for a widespread and growing interest in the gospel, though every advance is contested by the enemy of souls. Pray specifically for protection of enquirers and national believers from informers, compromise and from internal dissension. Pray also for greater freedom for, and recognition of, Christians. The constitution guarantees freedom of religion – but this does not extend to freedom to leave Islam. Pray for all who have taken this step and for boldness in witness.

4 A Moroccan Church is emerging – but at great cost. It is estimated that by 2000 there were 500 believers and some seekers in about 20 small groups meeting for fellowship. Many believers are isolated from regular fellowship. Pray for:

a) Deep trust and fellowship to be established between believers so that they can meet together despite the risks and that a strong, indigenous, economically self-sufficient, Moroccan Church might develop.

b) Grace, fortitude and deliverance from fear when pressured or harassed by family, police and the authorities. Over the years some believers have been questioned, intimidated, confined to psychiatric wards, temporarily detained and occasionally imprisoned by the police who maintain an active surveillance of anything Christian. The most acute persecution still comes from the families of believers.

c) Those discipling individual believers despite the climate of suspicion, fear and isolation and the lack of Scriptures and teaching materials.

d) Provision of leadership and training opportunities for believers. New leadership training programmes are being developed. Pray that there may be God-given, Spirit-gifted leadership for every group of believers.

e) An increase in the number of Christian marriages and families, which then provide the basis for strong, vibrant house churches.

f) Official recognition of the existence of Moroccan believers and their identity as genuine Moroccans.

g) The planting of churches in every town and city.

5 Specific unreached peoples:

a) The Berber peoples were nominally Christian until Islam came. Arabization is being resisted by some who have a Berber heritage, and there is a revival of Berber culture and script. The government ban on using the Berber languages has ceased. Literacy in these languages has been very low because of earlier insistence on the sole use of Arabic. There are some believers in each of the three major Berber peoples. Pray that there may soon be groups meeting together using the indigenous languages. The Tashilhayt NT was published in 1998.

b) The Maghreb Jews once numbered 250,000. Most emigrated to Israel in 1948. Today only 15,000 remain as a respected minority. There is no known outreach to them at this time.

c) The nomadic desert tribes of the south and east, who have little contact with the gospel.

6 Missionary work, as such, is no longer openly permitted, and former mission centres were closed in the late 1960s. Christian workers are able to take up various types of employment, share their faith and encourage believers. Give thanks for those who are living in this country – may their lives radiate the life of Jesus, and may they have a tactful boldness and faith for a harvest despite surveillance, pressure and discouragements. Pray for more to be able to master Arabic and the Berber languages. Pray also for the way to open for Christians to enter this land.

7 Bible and Christian literature ministries:

a) In theory, Bibles may be legally imported, but Arabic versions have been seized. Pray for effective importation and distribution of Scriptures in Arabic and Berber languages. The bilingual French-Arabic NT is popular.

b) Bible translation continues in the three main Berber languages in both Arabic and Berber scripts as well as in Moroccan Arabic. Pray for the translators and for a felicitous and accurate choice of words. Much is being done to record and distribute parts of the Scriptures in Tarifit.

c) BCCs in combination with Christian broadcasting have been successful but the authorities have sought to hinder and discredit the ministry. Pray that postal services may function without interference en route – sadly, a frequently occurrence. Over the years 250,000 have started as BCC students.

d) Various literature agencies – most are based in France or Spain. They are working to write, print and distribute Arabic and Berber literature for North Africa.

8 Christian electronic media ministries are making a potent impact:

a) Satellite TV has spread rapidly and is very popular in both urban and rural areas. SAT-7 has made a big impact with 25% of Arab World responses from Morocco. Pray for good reception of programmes and for impact on the lives and worldview of Moroccans.

b) Christian radio has been effective to bring the gospel to many – especially young people. Pray for:

i) Programmes. The three Berber languages are a challenge – pray for these to be increased in number and variety, and for indigenous Christian music, songs, poetry and theology to be developed.

ii) Increased hours on the air at appropriate times and intervals. TWR broadcasts 12 hrs/wk in Arabic and 3 hrs/wk in Tamazight. The ideal would be 24 hours a day!

iii) Strategic use of Christian radio for effective church planting with good follow-up that does not expose contacts to risk, but leads to long-term discipling.

c) The JESUS film is being distributed on video cassettes in Arabic and the 3 major Berber languages – especially in ports as Moroccans travel to and from Europe. A large number of the population has seen the video.

d) There is a great effort being made to record the Scriptures in Moroccan Arabic on cassette tape.

9 Moroccans have migrated in large numbers in search of employment – many illegally and dangerously. Over 3,000 have drowned in crossing the Straits of Gibraltar to Spain between 1994 and 1999. There are significant numbers of Moroccans in Europe: in France (approx. 1.5 mill.); The Netherlands (240,000); Belgium (150,000); Spain (113,000 legal and possibly 700,000 illegal); Germany (100,000); and Britain (50,000). Others reside in the Spanish North African enclave cities of Ceuta and Mellila. Pray for the various agencies seeking to reach them in these lands – some being GMU, AWM, YWAM, OM, PMI and WEC.


Western Sahara

GEOGRAPHY

Area 252,000 sq.km. Almost entirely desert, but has huge phosphate deposits and one of the world's richest sea fishing areas.

Population An estimated 200,000.

Capital Laayoune.

PEOPLES

Arab-Berber Moroccan 'settlers' 135,000; Saharawi indigenous 65,000; a further 190,000 refugees in 4 main camps near Tindouf, Algeria. There are also up to 100,000 Moroccan military personnel.

Literacy 95%. Official language Hassaniya Arabic.

ECONOMY

Great potential for development despite lack of water. The Moroccan occupation is costly and limits investment and development.

POLITICS

Ruled by Spain until 1975 and then occupied by Morocco. 16 years of Saharawi-Moroccan warfare ensued. A UN-brokered cease-fire of 1991 has not yielded the promised referendum on the future status of the area. Morocco is fully intent on holding on to it. Over 70% of the territory is controlled by Morocco behind a 1,500 km berm (earth wall) and 30% by Polisario, the Saharawi liberation movement. The Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic is recognized by 70 governments.

RELIGION

100% Muslim. Polisario is moderate and secular in orientation.


Challenges for Prayer

1 A peaceful and fair resolution to more than 25 years of conflict and a return of the Saharawi to their homeland is the need. Pray for this.

2 Until recently there were no known Christians. There are several who now believe. Some low-key work is in progress. There are openings for ministry through relief and development to the refugees. The JESUS film is available and the Hassaniya NT is in preparation. Pray for those who are, and could be, serving among them.

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