I'm seeing a few reports, which appear to primarily stem from this report on a site called onislam.net, which claim that Angola has destroyed (or is set to destroy) all its mosques and has banned the religion of Islam.

“This is the final end of Islamic influence in our country,” President José Eduardo dos Santos was quoted by Osun Defender newspaper on Sunday, November 24.

Last October, Muslims from the urban municipality of Viana, Luanda, attended the destruction of the minaret of their mosque Zengo.

The provincial governor of Luanda, Bento Bento, has also said on the airwaves of a local radio that "radical Muslims are not welcome in Angola and the Angolan government is not ready for the legalization of mosques."

He added that Muslims were not welcome in Angola and that the government would not legalize the presence of mosques in the country.

The sources are sketchy and most of the (few) other news sites that are reporting this story either cite onislam.net or point to unnamed news sources. I can't see any first-hand reports on this story from any reliable, mainstream sources.

So, is it true? Has the country of Angola destroyed all its mosques and banned Islam itself?

  • 1
    The same article quotes the Minister as saying that they will have to (but presumably haven't yet) change the law which relates to freedom of religious assembly.
    – ChrisW
    Nov 25, 2013 at 16:02
  • @Articuno That description is from 2008, and may be the basis of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_religion_in_Angola -- the events in the OP are very recent.
    – ChrisW
    Nov 25, 2013 at 16:35
  • @Articuno He said that his institution in Angola, whose recent statistics point to a universe of over 800 thousand faithful, with 23% Angolans who adhered to Islam by conviction and still others by wedlock: These statistics from opais.net are completely different to those on state.gov, Wikipedia, and elsewhere.
    – user7920
    Nov 25, 2013 at 16:36
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    I get nervous when Skeptics.SE is asked to verify up-to-the-minute news reports. We aren't capable of digging up fresh sources (e.g. going into Angola and interviewing locals and taking photos), so we are inevitably just going to trail the news-hounds. Perhaps I should take this to meta...
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 25, 2013 at 23:20
  • 3

1 Answer 1


Islam has not been banned in Angola. From Al Jazeera:

Angola's government has denied it had banned Islam and closed mosques in the country, after media speculation that sparked outrage among Muslims worldwide.

"There is no war in Angola against Islam or any other religion," said Manuel Fernando, director of the National Institute for Religious Affairs, part of the ministry of culture, on Tuesday.

"There is no official position that targets the destruction or closure of places of worship, whichever they are." Fernando told AFP news agency.

While mosques have been closed/destroyed in Angola, this was apparently done due to their lack of permits.

But according to the ministry of culture, those closures were related to a lack of necessary land titles, building licenses or other official documents.

A witness in the province of Uige (Carmona) told Al Jazeera that the closed mosques were hastility 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 told Al Jazeera.

But it does appear that Angola does not officially recognise Islam as the number of Muslims in Angola is apparently below the required 100,000 mark. This figure might be inaccurate:

The oil-rich southern African nation has a population of about 18 million people, several hundred thousand of whom are Muslims.

Religious organisations are required to apply for accreditation in Angola, which currently recognises 83, all of them Christian.

In October the justice ministry rejected the applications of 194 organisations, including one from an umbrella Islamic community group.

OnIslam.net, the site that appears to be largely responsible for publicising this rumour, also offers a backhanded clarification:

In light of the mentioned political and economic environment, the contended discussion of banning Islam in Angola can be discussed.

The short answer to this question is that Islam did not get “banned” in Angola, simply because it was not officially approved in the first place. Until this day, Angolan Muslims are not able to get government approval for their religion to be able to build mosques, secure their standing as an officially registered religious group, and gain legal religious rights, among others.

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    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… implies that without 'recognition', religious groups (congregations) cannot be "juridical persons in the court system". Perhaps that means that any mosques must be owned by private persons. It also says Angola sometimes enforce zoning laws, e.g. against disrupting traffic, and holding religious services in residences.
    – ChrisW
    Nov 27, 2013 at 14:43

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