FACT CHECK: Claim That Angola Has Become The First Country To Ban Islam, Muslims Recirculates
A post shared on Facebook purports Angola has become the first country to ban Islam and Muslims.
There are neither recent credible news reports nor a statement from Angola’s Ministry of External Relations supporting the claim. The claim previously circulated in 2013 and 2016. An Angola expert also denied the claim’s validity in an email to Check Your Fact.
Angola recently started mining for diamonds at the Luele diamond deposit, according to Reuters. The site is the largest in the country and one of the largest in the world, the outlet indicated.
The Facebook post purports Angola has become the first country to ban Islam and Muslims. The post does not provide a source to support the claim.
The claim is false, however. Check Your Fact found no recent credible news reports suggesting Angola has become the first country to ban Islam and Muslims. Likewise, Angola’s Ministry of External Relations has not issued a statement via its website publicly commenting on the claim.
Although the claim appeared via the Facebook post, it is not new. The claim that Angola has become the first country to ban Islam and Muslims previously circulated in 2013 when it was debunked by India Today. According to the outlet, the claim appeared to have been ignited when Angolan Minister of Culture Rosa Cruz e Silva reportedly said, “The process of legalization of Islam has not been approved by the Ministry of Justice and Human rights, their mosques would be closed until further notice.”
Cruz e Silva’s comments appear to be in reference to a 2012 religious freedom report from the U.S. State Department indicating that religious groups “must petition for legal status with the justice and culture ministries,” also according to the outlet. The government supposedly ordered mosques to be demolished, with Cruz e Silva saying the move was part of an effort to ban “illegal” religious sects.
Angola defended its decision to refuse registration to Islamic religious groups and close illegal mosques at the time, according to Reuters.
The claim also circulated again in 2016 when BBC News debunked a story about a mosque being demolished in Angola’s capital, Luanda. (RELATED: Video Claiming To Show Houthi Rebels Hijacking Israel Cargo Ship Is Miscaptioned)
Dr. Ruy Blanes, a senior lecturer from the University of Gothernburg studying Angola and its political and religious climate, denied the claim’s validity in an email to Check Your Fact.
“There is no news whatsoever regarding the claim that Angola has banned Islam. I can’t explain why this is returning again, because since 2014-2015, when the Angolan government rejected requests for official recognition on behalf of some Islamic organizations, and after a couple of episodes of closing down of some mosques, nothing has really happened in this respect,” Blanes said.
Check Your Fact has also contacted Director of U.K.-based think tank Chatham House’s Africa Program Alex Vines for comment. This piece will be updated accordingly if one is received.
UPDATE: This piece has been updated with expert comment. The rating remains unchanged.