Mohamed El Baladi has been released from the Moroccan prison where he was held after being sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for the crimes of evangelism and shaking the faith of a Muslim. Mohamed had been held in prison since his arrest in late August.
The release is only until his official appeal hearing, scheduled for 10 October.
On Thursday, 26 September, Mohamed was summoned to a surprise hearing. His family only learned of it when his sister went to the prison to visit him and deliver groceries, only to be told that he was in court for a hearing. It was learned later that afternoon that he was released from prison and his appeal will be heard in early October.
As he spoke with family and friends, he confirmed that he faced severe abuse and pressure to recant his faith and return to Islam. The police attempted to force Mohamed to share the names of other Christians, both Moroccan and foreigners, whom he was connected to. They also spread false rumours to incite prisoners to further abuse him.
The Moroccan government is known to closely monitor the activities of the Christian community and the pressure applied to Mohamed raised fears among some local believers that a large-scale crackdown may be forthcoming. Based upon reports from friends who have spoken with Mohamed, it is believed his family was upset at his conversion to Christianity and had pressed for a harsher sentence to prompt him to recant from his faith. The detention and conviction of Mohamed within the space of one week sent shockwaves of fear through the Moroccan Christian community because the government has generally been tolerant of the Christian community. Source: International Christian Concern