The Kingdom of Morocco claims the territory of Western Sahara and administers the area it controls by the same constitution, laws, and structures as in internationally recognized Morocco, including laws that deal with religious freedom. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO), an organization seeking the territory’s independence, disputes Morocco’s claim to sovereignty over the territory. According to the Moroccan constitution, Islam is the religion of the state, and the state guarantees freedom of thought, expression, and assembly. The constitution also says the state guarantees to everyone the freedom to “practice his religious affairs.” The constitution states the king holds the Islamic title “Commander of the Faithful,” and that he is the protector of Islam and guarantor of the freedom to practice religious affairs in the country. It also prohibits political parties from being founded on religion and forbids political parties, parliamentarians, and constitutional amendments from denigrating or infringing on Islam. Moroccan law penalizes the use of enticements to convert a Muslim to another religion and prohibits criticism of Islam. There were no reports of significant government actions affecting religious freedom in the portion of the territory administered by Morocco.
Representatives of Christian minority groups said fear of societal harassment, including ostracism by converts’ families and social ridicule, were the main reasons leading them to practice their faith discreetly.
U.S. officials discussed religious freedom and tolerance with Moroccan officials and also met members of religious minority communities during visits to the territory.