Steven Howard is the advocacy director for In Defense of Christians, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization advocating for the human rights of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.
When considering Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen many of these countries deserve commendation for participating in interfaith dialogues. However, they have made no significant progress in improving religious liberty within their borders.
Ignoring the democracy versus pluralism dilemma fails to address the core issue facing both communities at the onset and consequently will not yield a Middle East friendlier to human rights and religious liberty. This debate is one that governments and politicians themselves cannot lead. Civil society is where this discussion must take place, and believers themselves are the ones who should lead it.
Prioritizing human rights with the king, going to Morocco’s marginalized religious minority population, and calling upon the Church in Morocco truly to open its doors to Moroccans would make this apostolic visit a meaningful multifaith engagement.