Last updated: 14 March, 2014

Morocco threatens to expel Syrians for mosque disruption

Morocco on Friday threatened to expel some Syrian refugees it accused of “causing disruption to mosques and the faithful” in several towns, after a first warning earlier this month.

Authorities will resort to the “immediate expulsion of any offender in accordance with the law… relating to the entry and residency of foreigners in the kingdom of Morocco,” the interior ministry said in a statement.

It referred to “the persistence” of certain “behaviour” despite a first message published on March 4 by the Islamic affairs department relating to the attitude of “certain Syrian nationals… who are causing disruption to mosques and the faithful”.

The March 4 warning said Syrians were “going to certain mosques in big towns where they are saying things that should not be said in places of worship”.

Neither statement elaborated on what was allegedly said, but the independent daily Akhbar al-Youm said authorities were worried that “politics might find its way into the kingdom’s mosques”.

Al-Sabah newspaper speculated that the government was worried about a “Shiite presence” and “reports of practices disturbing doctrinal unity” in Sunni-majority Morocco.

Around 1,000 Syrian refugees are estimated to have arrived in Morocco early in 2014, hoping to cross to Europe or gain refugee status in the kingdom.