Advocacy statements

UPR statement on Morocco

  • Date / 2017
  • Location / Morroco
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 6: Universal Periodic Review


International Humanist and Ethical Union

UN Human Rights Council, 36th Session (11 September – 29 September 2017)

UPR Outcomes: Morocco

We were extremely disappointed to read of Morocco’s partial rejection of Kenya’s recommendation that Morocco: “Remove restrictive practices against Christians and other minorities, including limitations on religious activities, freedom of thought and conscience.”[1] Notably it was the only recommendation regarding the right to freedom of religion or belief.

Such reform is sorely needed; the state maintains a law prohibiting expression deemed critical of “Islam, the institution of the monarchy,” and several “blasphemy” laws bearing the threat of punishment for apostates.

In the past year, the government have reportedly arrested, detained, and questioned local non-Muslims about their beliefs and authorities arrested and sentenced several individuals for eating and smoking in public during Ramadan.[2]

Since the campaign against such fasting laws in 2009, and the publication of a fatwa calling for the murder or execution of apostates, the non-religious have become an increasingly visibly persecuted belief group. Suffering from stigmatisation, activists report cases of violence by family members, investigation by authorities, and general difficulties in educational, professional and social life.[3]

Whilst we welcome the King’s instruction to the minister of endowments and Islamic affairs and the minister of education to review and rewrite religious textbooks and religious curricula used in public and private schools, with the stated goal of removing any extremist or intolerant references and promoting moderation, tolerance, and coexistence. We believe that the kingdom needs to do more to promote the right to freedom of religion or belief and plurality of opinions.

A state should grant freedom of religion to all its citizens and not just those fortunate enough to agree with the religious beliefs of the state they live in. We urge Morocco to consider this and put in place moves to repeal its laws discriminating on the grounds of religion or belief in order to comply with international human rights standards and genuinely promote tolerance and plurality in the kingdom.


[1] https://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/document/morocco/session_27_-_may_2017/recommendations_and_pledges_morocco_2017.pdf

[2] Ibid.

[3] http://freethoughtreport.com/countries/africa-northern-africa/morocco/

Suggested academic reference

'UPR statement on Morocco', Humanists International

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