by Daniel Pipes
November 23, 2013

Angola’s Minister of Culture Rosa Cruz e Silva.

Angola‘s Minister of Culture Rosa Cruz e Silva is reported to have declared Islam an illegal religion in the country because it is not an approved list of religions, and to have banned it.

Comment: It will be interesting to follow this surely-doomed effort. Muslim-majority countries like Saudi Arabia and the Maldives can effectively ban other religions but not the reverse. (November 23, 2013)

Nov. 25, 2013 update: Already, an official in the Angolan embassy in Washington has backtracked and denied the ban, telling the press that “The Republic of Angola [is] a country that does not interfere in religion. We have a lot of religions there. It is freedom of religion.”

Nov. 28, 2013 update: A report by Aristides Cabeche and David Smith in the Guardian finds the ban-Islam effort is serious: “The Islamic Community of Angola (ICA) claims that eight mosques have been destroyed in the past two years and anyone who practises Islam risks being found guilty of disobeying Angola’s penal code.” The rationale is bureaucratic:

Religious organisations are required to apply for legal recognition in Angola, which currently sanctions 83, all of them Christian. Last month the justice ministry rejected the applications of 194 organisations, including one from the Islamic community. Under Angolan law, a religious group needs more than 100,000 members and to be present in 12 of the 18 provinces to gain legal status, giving them the right to construct schools and places of worship. There are only an estimated 90,000 Muslims among Angola’s population of about 18 million. … There are 78 mosques in the country, according to the ICA, and all have been closed except those in the capital, Luanda, because they are technically unlicensed.

David Já, president of the Islamic Community of Angola (ICA), says the government’s shutting of mosques began in 2010. In addition, he states that 120 copies of the Koran burned and covered women are being targeted, “As things stand, most Muslim women are afraid to wear the veil.”

Rafael Marques de Morais, an investigative journalist in Angola, confirms these claims and goes further: “I’ve seen an order that says Muslims must destroy the mosques themselves and clear away the debris, or they will be charged for the cost of the destruction. … If the Muslims try to show any anger, they will be deported the following day.”

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Source material can be found at this site.