Being a (Secret) Atheist in a Country Full of Faith

RABAT–A café on the hem of Rabat’s medina basks in its atmosphere of quiet anonymity. This suits Mohamed Abdallah, a 27-year-old translator born and raised a few short alley twists away. He shifts a bit uneasily in his sun-drenched seat by the window, his sharp brown eyes scanning the space for possible eavesdroppers.

“I hope no one here speaks English,” Abdallah  says apprehensively. Though the small cafe is sparsely populated, its patrons preoccupied and noises soft, the conversation that is about to ensue makes him uneasy. Abdallah is an atheist, a belief that carries heavy implications in a country built on Islam.

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Christians in Morocco: A Crisis of Faith


This article was published by U.S. News & World Report on Sept. 30, 2015. Read it HERE.

RABAT, Morocco — Mohammad, 65, remembers his first encounter with the police 30 years ago. He marks where he received the bruises, and grabs his throat to illustrate how the police strangled him with a belt. A convert to Christianity, Mohammed says he and his wife, Fatima, also a Christian, were imprisoned for 19 days because of their religion.

During his incarceration, Mohammad says he was forced to recite the Shahada, the Islamic statement of faith.

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Moroccan butcher sees sales spike for sacred Muslim holiday

By Rob Dozier

RABAT, Morocco — For more than 30 years, Abdeni Mdegdeg has sold meat year-round near the old walled medina of Morocco’s capital city. Now comes the time of year when his services are in the highest demand: the important Muslim holiday Eid Al-Adha, or the “Feast of the Sacrifice.”

“Working as a butcher is a popular profession in Morocco,” Mdegdeg said. “And, it’s a sacred one.”

Especially on Thursday, the day of Eid throughout the Muslim world, when people will partake in tradition of sacrificing sheep or other livestock.

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Challenging Illiteracy in Morocco, a Bookseller Pursues Paradise

By Hannah Rehak

Photographs by Will Matsuda

RABAT, Morocco – Magazines spill out onto a busy street and blue painted shutters stretch open, exposing Aziz Muhammed sitting on a dusty pillow. As always, he is reading, eyes focused on an orange-bound book, spectacles resting on his prominent nose. Though tucked away behind the work of hundreds of authors, Muhammed is known throughout the medina, the oldest part of Rabat, for his unique aesthetic. He is a 66-year-old bouquiniste, a proud bookseller, in a country with an adult literacy rate of approximately 67 percent.

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A Family Celebrates Eid al-Adha

Eid al-Adha, known as the Feast of Sacrifice, is a one of the most important Muslim holidays celebrated throughout the Muslim world. It commemorates the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his first-born son Ismail to Allah. Because of Ibrahim’s unwavering faith, Allah intervened and presented him a sheep to sacrifice instead. Every year it’s custom in Morocco for families to slaughter a sheep or ram in memory of this event. The Mhamdi family, pictured here, is performing the annual ritual together. After three days of feeding and taking care of their ram inside their home, the festival is about to begin.

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