Angola denies Islam ban after speculation

Angola denies Islam ban after speculation

LUANDA - Agence France-Presse
Angola denies Islam ban after speculation

People walk near one of several mosques in capital city of Luanda. AFP photo

Angola’s government Nov. 26 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 Culture Ministry.

“There is no official position that targets the destruction or closure of places of worship, whichever they are,” Fernando told Agence France-Presse. Reports that Angola, a traditionally devout Catholic nation, would crack down on Muslims had drawn condemnation from the Organization 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 organizations are required to apply for accreditation in Angola, which currently recognizes 83, all of them Christian. In October the Justice Ministry rejected the applications of 194 organizations, including one from an umbrella Islamic community group.