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Deported Christians Fight To Be Reunited with Morocco Orphans

Court rules against Village of Hope, reversing orphanage's legal status.

(MSN) Expatriate Christians who ran an orphanage in Morocco until they were deported on charges of proselytism say they will take their fight to be reunited with the children to the nation's supreme court if necessary.

Earlier this month an appellate court delivered a verbal ruling in favor of the Moroccan government, which had deported Village of Hope staff members–many of whom lived with and raised the orphans as "foster" parents–and their birth children in 2010 as part of a larger purge of Christians from the country. The May 7 ruling by the Administrative Court of Rabat stated that Village of Hope has no legal status to file any claims.

But the state's appeal this month came after an October 2012 oral ruling, released in writing in January, stipulating that the association was a legitimate legal entity with the right to seek legal redress of grievances. The May 7 ruling could shatter the group's legal claim to the orphanage, which is operating under state-appointed leadership, and enable the government to control the assets of Village of Hope, valued at more than $1 million, former workers said.

One foster parent of the Village of Hope, Colin Dickinson of the United Kingdom, said he thinks the appellate court issued its ruling to avoid embarrassment over a court contradicting the government.

"I think the decision was annulled for face-saving," Dickinson told Morning Star News. "We will appeal."

Village of Hope seeks to resume operation of the orphanage, which became of the face of a 2010 purge in which the government rounded up foreign Christians, interrogated them and expelled them with little or no warning. In all, from March 2010 to July 2010, at least 128 expatriate Christians were expelled, including 39 Village of Hope staff members and their birth children. None were afforded due process, and only a few were given official deportation papers.

The deportations were accompanied by raids from police looking for Bibles and other Christian literature. In the case of the Village of Hope, which was caring for 33 children when the deportations happened. police came to the orphanage two days prior to the expulsions looking for Bibles and evangelistic literature.

The government accused the deportees of proselytizing, although Village of Hope had a strict policy against proselytism.

Editor's note: Chris Broadbent, a Village of Hope worker, told CT at the time that government accusations of proselytizing were unfounded.

CT previously has reported on Muslims' public complaints about Christian converts in Morocco, as well as on a recent legal pronouncement that calls for execution of Christian converts.

Posted:June 6, 2013 at 11:15AM
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