No, Angola has not banned Islam

Reports that the southwest African country of Angola had banned Islam first appeared back in November 2013.

They quoted culture minister Rosa Cruz E Silva saying Islam was “contrary to the customs of Angolan culture” and announcing the closure of mosques “until further notice”.

South Africa’s Daily Maverick soon clarified that the religion hadn’t been banned in Angola (it was more complicated than that). And in 2016 the BBC followed up with an article exploring “The persistent myth that Islam was banned in Angola”.

But the myth still persists, with reports of the ban posted on Facebook in 2019. They include photos of mosques being destroyed – suggesting this was in Angola. The posts claim Angola is “the first country in the world to ban Islam”.

The claim has been criticised by some Facebook users and celebrated by others.

Destroyed mosques not in Angola

But the photos in the posts were not taken in Angola.

A reverse image search reveals that one is of a mosque destroyed in Gaza, Palestine in January 2009.

Another shows a Shia Muslim mosque in Bahrain, bulldozed on in April 2011 on the orders of the government.

A third is of a mosque minaret toppled by air bombings from Syrian government warplanes in  the Islamic State-held city of Raqqa in northern Syria in November 2014.

Angola did not ban Islam

The 2016 BBC article explains that some mosques had been closed in Angola in 2013 because “they did not have permission to be built”, according to the government. It quotes Muslim clerics who confirmed that Islam had not been banned although some mosques had been temporarily closed.

The Angolan government denied the ban.

In 2013 Al Jazeera quoted ministry of culture official Manuel Fernando as saying: “There is no war in Angola against Islam or any other religion.”

‘Mosques still operating’

Al Jazeera said Ahmed ould Taher, “a witness in the province of Uige”, had explained that the closed mosques were “hastily built by expatriate communities from west and north Africa” who needed a space for Friday prayers.

“It’s true that several mosques have been destroyed and others simply shut down in the last few months,” ould Taher told Al Jazeera.

“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.”

As reported by AFP Fact Check, Islam has not been banned in Angola. Only two mosques were temporarily closed because they did not have the “required land titles, building licences and other official documents”. – Africa Check (28/05/19)

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