Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, MINA – David Alberto Ja, the leader of Islamic Community Angola said his country’s Muslim population is only around 800,000 out of 30 million a total population, but Muslims want to be legally recognized.
According to Alberto Ja, Islam becomes one of the largest religions in the world, but it remains unofficially recognized in Angola, southern Africa. There are 75 percent of the population is Christian, and others are Catholics.
“As for Islam, it has ancient roots in Angola, the spread of Islam began in the 1990s when massive immigration occurred in West African countries such as Mali, Senegal and Guinea, and others,” Alberto Ja told Anadolu Agency.
He said religion in Angola has been influenced by the country’s specific reality. His political history was marked by years of socialist ideology and civil war.
“Political and legal reforms are slow. The previous government was not very open to Islam in particular and freedom in general. As a result, Muslims face many challenges, “he said
One of the most controversial issues regarding religion is the Law on Religion. Since 2004, the law stipulates that for religion to be recognized by the state, it must have more than 100,000 members and attendance in more than two-thirds of the country’s territory.
In addition, a religious group must submit a minimum of 60,000 signatures to the government to legalize its congregation.
“Islam is now a reality that cannot be denied,” Alberto Ja said, adding that Muslims in Angola has been in the process of collecting 60,000 signatures.
He revealed the decree has passed recently by the Angolan National Assembly, reducing the minimum number of 100,000.
Apart from legal restrictions imposed by the government, Alberto Ja said he has optimistic about the future.
“I must say that as a result of current political reforms in Angola, Muslims are witnessing better relations with the state and society. However, many lawyers view legal requirements as a government tactic to limit religious freedom and say it is against religious and ethnic minority rights, “he continued.
Despite lack of legal recognition, Muslims have freely practiced their religion for decades, and there are now 60 mosques in Angola.
Mohammed Saleh Jabu, head of Islamic Religion and Collaboration Guidance in Angola, told Anadolu Agency, there are around 1,000 religious communities in Angola, only 84 of which have been ratified.
“We are free to practice our religion, but the government has not recognized Islam yet as one of the country’s official religions, and that must change,” Jabu said.
“We are in the process of legalizing our religion,” he said.
He also said that the Ministry of Justice had recognized the Supreme Council of Angolan Muslims in Luanda and other institutions would follow.
Juba added there are also problems with the number of Islamic books circulating, due to the challenges of printing and distribution. In line with Juba, Alberto Ja also revealed this.
“We will be grateful if, at the Islamic conference held by Turkey, we can also be informed, given the role played by the Republic of Turkey in matters of Islam.” Angolan Muslims need the help of Islamic countries with many problems, including education.” (T/Sj/P2)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)