|Article on Angola|
Islam is illegal in Angola
Africa Analysis understands that a number of international Muslim
organizations are to launch a campaign to highlight the plight of
Muslims in Angola. They say that the Angolan Government is using the war
against international terrorism as an excuse to clamp down on Islam. For
decades, the authorities here have treated Muslim migrant workers from
west African countries with suspicion, including Mali, Senegal, Niger
and Nigeria. In fact, it has become a matter of routine at Luanda
airport for security
officers to detain Muslims arriving from Sahelian countries. Most of
these are small-scale traders.
In one incident, the Editor of Africa Analysis was briefly detained at Luanda airport after being cleared by immigration to enter the country. It later transpired that the security officers were interested in the fact that he is a Zanzibari-born British citizen and a Muslim.
Since the 9/11 attacks on the US, there has been a deliberate attempt to
link Muslims with terrorism. Angolan security officials have
increasingly been linking a number of Muslim businesses in the country
with international terrorism, insinuating that the companies launder
money for terrorist operations and are also allegedly involved in the
trafficking of arms and drugs.
Curiously, Angola is the only country in the world that does not
recognize Islam as a religion. This, despite the fact that the Islamic
faith has hundreds of thousands of followers in the country, including
Angolans and foreigners.
During the operations, the police were accompanied by officials of the local administration as well as those from the culture ministry. Lisboa dos Santos, the Director of the National Institute for Religious Affairs, on whose orders the police acted, defended the action by saying that the law that allows people to congregate for religious purposes “does not apply to Islam since Islam is illegal” in the country.
We understand that the closure of mosques will continue in other parts of the country. Muslim leaders in Angola say that they have abided by all conditions for the legalization of their religion but that the authorities remain oblivious to this.
|Article source: This article was first appeared in Africa Analysis (February 24,2006)|