If reports are to be believed, Angola has become the first country in the world to ban Islam. They add that the country’s administration even destroyed a mosque in the city of Zango, while those left standing would remain closed till further notice.
“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,” Rosa Cruz e Silva, the Angolan Minister of Culture, was quoted by news site Agence Ecofin.
She explained that the decision was the latest in a series of efforts to ban ‘illegal’ religious sects whose manner of worship contradicted the customs of the Angolan culture. Islam is not considered a religion in its own right in the country.
Just like Islam, other faiths not recognized by the government would face the closure of their houses of worship, she added.
angola becomes the first country in the world to ban Islam. pic.twitter.com/gU0M9aUVZL— Kelechi. (@KTHITS) November 24, 2013
This is what appears to be an effort by the Angolan government to halt the spread of Islamic extremism.
In Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos’ words, "This is the final end of Islamic influence in our country." It has become the first country in the world to have taken such a strong stance against Islam.
Angola has a population that primarily practices indigenous religions, with the majority following Christianity, whereas only 80,000-90,000 practice Islam.
Islamic extremists have tarnished the name of their religion the world over by killing innocent people they see as ‘infidels’ or by taking it upon themselves to ‘lead these folks to the right path.’
The terms ‘jihadists terrorists and oppressors of women’ are usually associated with Islam nowadays and the behavior of extremists practicing the religion has done little to dispel that image. If anything, the majority of Muslims coexist peacefully with people from all faiths, but a few radical Islamists have hijacked the religion.
While some may agree with the decision of the Angolan government, surely banning an entire faith goes against the most basic freedoms.
In an update International Business Time reports “an official at the Angolan Embassy in Washington, D.C., who did not want to be identified while discussing the sensitive matter, said that there is no such ban, and that the reports are erroneous.”
“The Republic of Angola … it’s a country that does not interfere in religion,”IBT adds the official’s quote. “We have a lot of religions there. It is freedom of religion. We have Catholic, Protestants, Baptists, Muslims and evangelical people.”
However, there hasn't been a public acknowledgement or denial of the reports from Angola so far.