Angola has banned Islam and ordered the destruction of mosques in the southern African country, according to several news outlets.
The International Business Times noted that while reports of such a ban had picked up over the last few days, actual evidence of such a ban was minimal. The story was also picked up in the Indian press and the Daily Mail in England. And others who seemed to wish the ban inspires a global trend.
Human rights agencies working in Angola were confused, at first that it may well be true, indicating the political space in Angola has closed significantly in recent weeks and now, it appears, the religious space too.
Still, actual proof of the ban was hard to confirm.
The International Business Times has traced the story back to the Beninese newspaper La Nouvelle Tribune.
The French-language paper published an article on Friday quoting “several” Angolan officials, including the Angolan minister of culture, Rosa Cruz, who reportedly said: “The process of legalisation of Islam has not been approved by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. Their mosques would be closed until further notice.”
This article appears to have been the stimulus of all the subsequent reports of Islam being outlawed in Angola.
And as the report continued to spread, going viral by Monday and inviting shock, outrage and condemnation. Also, a photograph emerged, purporting to depict the destruction of a mosque in Angola.
The photograph was soon debunked; it was actually taken in Nigeria. Others say that the photo was taken somewhere in the Middle East. But wherever the photo was actually taken, it apparently was not Angola.
And then just as curiosity about the story had climaxed, the Angolan embassy in the U.S. stated categorically that the Angolan government had not banned Islam or Muslims from practicing their religion.
“The Republic of Angola. . . it’s a country that does not interfere in religion. We have a lot of religions there. It is freedom of religion. We have Catholic, Protestants, Baptists, Muslims and evangelical people,” the statement said.
In addition, Mufti Ismail Menk, a Zimbabwean Muslim scholar, issued a statement saying he had consulted with Angolan scholars who said the story was “completely fabricated”.
As it turns out, the Angolan government had ordered the demolition of structures that had been erected without the requisite building permissions–among them a mosque.
Read the rest of this story on the dailymaverick.co.za