A number of news outlets have reported that Angola has “banned” Islam and started to dismantle mosques in a bold effort to stem the spread of Muslim extremism.
Weekly French-language Moroccan newspaper La Nouvelle Tribune published an article on Friday sourcing “several” Angolan officials, including the Southwest African nation’s minister of culture, Rosa Cruz, who reportedly offered the following remarks, which have been translated from French: “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.”
The media reports have not described why exactly Islam apparently faces a need to be legalized despite its presence in the country for many years.
OnIslam.net reports that the African economic news agency Agence Ecofin wrote that Cruz made the statement at an appearance last week before the 6th Commission of the National Assembly. The website goes on to note that, “According to several Angolan newspapers, Angola has become the first country in the world to ban Islam and Muslims, taking first measures by destroying mosques in the country.”
Even Angola President José Eduardo dos Santos has weighed in on the controversy, as he was quoted in Nigeria’s Osun Defender newspaper on Sunday as saying, “This is the final end of Islamic influence in our country,” according to the OnIslam.net report.
The reported comments by Cruz and Santos echo the stance of the governor of the country’s Luanda province, Bento Francisco Bento, who reportedly maintains “that radical Muslims were not welcome in Angola and that the government was not ready to legalize the presence of mosques in the country,” according to a La Nouvelle Tribune summary of Bento’s take on the issue.
Angola is a majority-Christian nation of about 16 million people, an estimated 55 percent of whom are Catholic, 25 percent of whom belong to African Christian denominations, 10 percent of whom follow major Protestant traditions, 5 percent of whom belong to Brazilian Evangelical churches and where only between 80,000 and 90,000 people are Muslim, according to the U.S. State Department.