Sunday, November 24, 2013

Angola Steps Up Ban On Mosques In the Country

A report today from OnIslam indicates that the largely Christian country of Angola is stepping up its enforcement of the ban on Islam as an unrecognized religious group operating in the country.  The U.S. State Department's 2012 International Religious Freedom Report described Angolan policy:
Religious groups must petition for legal status with the justice and culture ministries....  By law, a religious group must have over 100,000 members and be present in 12 of the 18 provinces to gain legal status.... 
The high membership threshold for religious groups to acquire legal status restricted registration. The government continued to recognize 83 registered religious groups, but did not register any new groups.... More than 900 organizations have applied unsuccessfully for legal recognition since 1991. The government has not granted legal status to any Muslim groups. Over 2,000 organizations reportedly continued to operate without legal status. The government generally permitted these organizations to exist, function, and grow without legal recognition.
However, speaking last week to the Commission of the National Assembly, Angolan Minister of Culture Rosa Cruz e Silva said:
The process of legalization of Islam has not been approved by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, their mosques would be closed until further notice.... All sects on the list published by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights in the Angolan newspaper Jornal de Angola are prohibited to conduct worship, so they should keep their doors closed.... In addition, we also have a long list of more than a thousand legalization applications.
Meanwhile Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos said: "This is the final end of Islamic influence in our country." The Nigerian newspaper Osun Defender today says that these steps are designed to prevent the rise of Wahhabi ideology.

UPDATE: According to the Nov. 25 International Business Times , an official at the Angolan embassy in Washington, D.C. says that reports of a ban on Islam in Angola are erroneous, and that the country has freedom of religion.