The Angolan government has denied banning Islam and the closure of mosques in the country.
The director of the National Institute for Religious Affairs, part of the ministry of culture, Manuel Fernando, said: “There is no war in Angola against Islam or any other religion.”
“There is no official position that targets the destruction or closure of places of worship, whichever they are,” Fernando stated further.
He explained that the closure of some mosques was related to a lack of necessary land titles, building licenses or other official documents.
A witness in the province of Uige (Carmona), Ahmed ould Taher, said that the closed mosques were hastily built by expatriate communities from West and North Africa who needed a place to perform Friday prayers.
“It’s true that several mosques have been destroyed and others simply shut down in the last few months. Most of the mosques that were destroyed were built without government permission. Two authorised mosques in Luanda are still operating without a problem. I have not heard of any official decision to ban Islam or prohibit Muslim prayers in mosques,” Ahmed ould Taher said.
Reports that Angola, a traditionally devout Catholic nation, would crack down on Muslims had drawn condemnation from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and others.
The controversy was further fuelled by the government’s poor communication on the issue.
Religious organisations are required to apply for accreditation in Angola. In October the justice ministry rejected the applications of 194 organisations.