Morocco’s hidden Christians see pope trip as chance to push for freedom

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Moroccan converts to Christianity, a tiny minority in an overwhelmingly Muslim country, are looking to Pope Francis’ visit next week as an chance to press their demands for religious freedom.

Francis will spend two days in Rabat on his first trip to the North African country from March 30-31 - the first visit there by any pope in nearly 35 years.

He will spend time with Roman Catholics - most of them expatriate Europeans, mainly French, and sub-Saharan African migrants - who are free to worship in churches such as the capital’s art deco St. Peter’s Cathedral.

But unlike those “foreign Christians”, Moroccan converts say they are forced to worship at home, in secret. Conversion from Islam to Christianity is banned - as it is in many Muslim countries - and proselytizing is punishable by up to three years in prison.

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