A number of newspapers in the region are reporting that the Republic of Angola has outlawed Islam, apparently in an effort to thwart the spread of Muslim radicalism in the country.
Among them was La Nouvelle Tribune, a French-language newspaper out of Morocco, reports the International Business Times.
La Nouvelle Tribune observed that a minaret on an Angolan mosque had been removed previously. Also, in the small city of Zango, not far from the capital of Luanda, government officials reportedly destroyed a mosque.
The Moroccan paper quoted Angola’s minister of culture, Rosa Cruz e Silva, for details.
“The process of legalization of Islam has not been approved by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights,” Cruz e Silva said. “Their mosques would be closed until further notice.”
The ban, which includes an order to destroy all mosques in the country, isn’t specific to Islam, according to India Today. Other faiths which don’t meet government approval will face the same restrictions.
“All sects on the list published by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights in the Angolan newspaper ‘Jornal de Angola’ are prohibited to conduct worship, so they should keep their doors closed,” Cruz e Silva was quoted by as saying by the Cameroon Voice.
It’s not clear which other religions are included.
Other government officials firmly agreed with the culture minister.
Bento Francisco Bento, governor of the country’s Luanda province, has declared that radical Muslims are “not welcome in Angola.”
“This is the final end of Islamic influence in our country,” added Angola’s President José Eduardo dos Santos.
According to the CIA’s World Factbook, the people of Angola are mostly a mix of local tribes. There’s a very small minority of Europeans. There’s also a healthy 22 percent representation from ethnic groups called “other.”
About 50 percent of the people in Angola practice indigenous religious beliefs. Roman Catholics make up 38 percent of the population. Protestants make up 15 percent.
To whatever extent adherents of Islam are living among the 18 million or so inhabitants in Angola, then, the population is by all accounts very small.
Portuguese is the official language of Angola. The country is slightly less than twice the size of Texas.