African News
Angola denies banning Islam after outcry
Publish Date: Nov 27, 2013
Angola denies banning Islam after outcry
People walking near one of several mosques in Viana, a suburb of Luanda, the Angolan capital on November 1, 2013. PHOTO/AFP
  • mail
  • img
newvision

LUANDA - Angola's government on Tuesday denied it had banned Islam and closed mosques in the country, after speculation that sparked outrage among Muslims worldwide.

"There is no war in Angola against Islam or any other religion," said Manuel Fernando, director of the National Institute for Religious Affairs, part of the ministry of culture.

"There is no official position that targets the destruction or closure of places of worship, whichever they are," Fernando told AFP.

Reports that Angola, a traditionally devout Catholic nation, would crack down on Muslims had drawn condemnation from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and others.

In Egypt, mufti Shawqi Allam said such a move would be "a provocation not only to Angolan Muslims but to more than 1.5 billion Muslims all over the world".

The oil-rich southern African nation has a population of about 18 million people, several hundred thousand of whom are Muslim.

Religious organisations are required to apply for accreditation in Angola, which currently recognises 83, all of them Christian.

In October the justice ministry rejected the applications of 194 organisations, including one from an umbrella Islamic community group.

David Ja, a spokesman for local Muslims, challenged the government's account and said that a number of mosques had already been closed.

Ja condemned what he described as "political persecution" and "religious intolerance".

"A mosque was closed last week in Huambo (in the south) and we have been subjected to pressure this week regarding a mosque in Luanda," he said.

According to the ministry of culture, these closures were related to a lack of necessary land titles, building licenses or other official documents.

Analyst Alex Vines said the rumours followed Culture Minister Rosa Cruz e Silva's announcement last week that the government would crack down on "sects".

The measure "was targeting mostly Brazil-style evangelical groups that have mushroomed across Angola", according to Vines, Africa programme head at UK-based think-tank Chatham House.

Brazilian religious groups "have particularly worried establishment churches that have seen their congregations dwindle", he wrote on Chatham's website.

The headlines were the result of the government's "clumsy policy" and "poor communication", he said, warning they "might not only radicalise Muslim communities in Angola but could make Angola a legitimate target for jihadists".

AFP

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Kenyatta signs controversial anti-terror bill into law
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed into law a controversial anti-terrorism bill that sparked brawls in parliament....
Saudi investor to build Africa
A Saudi investor is to build Africa''s tallest building in Morocco, with construction of the 114-storey tower to begin in June, the project''s manager has said....
13-year-old girl with suicide vest arrested
A 13-year-old girl in an explosives vest was arrested in the northern Nigerian city of Kano....
Two Kenyans charged for violently stripping woman
Two Kenyans accused of stripping a woman have been charged with sexual assault, reports say....
Tutu cancels travel plans to battle cancer
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has cancelled all travel plans for the rest of the year in order to battle cancer....
Kenya probes Al Jazeera over
Kenya has ordered Al Jazeera to be placed under investigation over a report aired alleging Kenyan police operate death squads....
Do you agree with the ban on the export of maids?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter