Moroccan atheist Imad Eddin Habib is now on the run, after police began searching for him last week. Habib told Irshad Manji‘s Moral Courage TV that officers confronted his father, asking him to bring an end to his son’s activism. Habib is the founder of the Council of Ex-Muslims in Morocco, which aims for the “application of a secular constitution.”
The 22-year-old student has gained a reputation for his activism and controversial posts online, including a photograph of himself eating ice cream during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. Shortly before he went into hiding, Habib was featured in an article on a high profile Moroccan news site, and police were searching for him hours after it was published.
Atheism is not criminalised in Morocco, but Article 220 of the country’s Penal Code forbids “shaking a Muslim’s faith”. The article’s vague wording can be used to punish anyone who criticises Islam openly, or promotes any other faith with a jail sentence of up to three years. Ahmed Benchemsi wrote that this says that “when you live in Morocco, you can think whatever you want of religion, but you better keep it for yourself.”
Habib is now said to be moving between the homes of friends, after his parents threatened to hand him over to the police if he were to return to their home in Casablanca. Even though he is uncertain about what will happen to him next, Habib is still committed to his beliefs, and called on his fellow Moroccans to push for the country to “work together to apply the universal human rights.”
“If Morocco doesn’t apply universal human rights, we will turn into another religious dictatorship”, he said.