First Country To Ban Islam Comes Under Fire

The government of Angola has been accused of banning Islam.

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.

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.

David Já, president of the Islamic Community of Angola (ICA), said on Thursday: “We can say that Islam has been banned in Angola. You need 100,000 to be recognised as a religion or officially you cannot pray.”

Women who wear the traditional veil are also being targeted, Já said. “As things stand, most Muslim women are afraid to wear the veil. A woman was assaulted in hospital in Luanda for wearing a veil, and on another occasion, a young Muslim lady was beaten up and told to leave the country because she was wearing a veil.

But the Angolan government denies any attempt to ban Islam. “There is no war in Angola against Islam or any other religion,” Manuel Fernando, director of religious affairs at the culture ministry, . “There is no official position that targets the destruction or closure of places of worship, whichever they are.”

A statement from the Angolan embassy in the US concurred: “The republic of Angola … it's a country that does not interfere in religion. We have a lot of religions there. It is freedom of religion. We have Catholic, Protestants, Baptists, Muslims and evangelical people.”

Source: The Guardian

Photo: Palestinians burn Angola's flag in a protest amid reports that the country has banned Islam and destroyed mosques. Photograph: APA/REX

On the one hand, religious freedom is a cornerstone of our American values and it is repugnant when we are confronted with any attempt to constrict that right. On the other hand, Muslim extremism has proven the most toxic and dangerous catalyst for violence, rape, and torture throughout the globe and remains an imminent and real threat to the rights and lives of people everywhere.

Update: Yet another country has essentially banned Islam. Move to the final page for more:

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  1. John

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