The pre-dominant Christian country Angola, with a population of 16 million, rarely makes an appearance in the international news headlines. But over the past month it was the hot topic in the international media, as a number of leading news outlets claimed that Angola enacted a ban on Islam. These reports which originated from the African press were insubstantial, but they went far to quote the president of Angola, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, as well as Angolan Minister Roza Cruz e Silva, and that these individuals advocated these news to be true.
As stated by the US State Department: Angola is a majority Christian nation, of which the majority 55% are Catholics, 25% being African Christian denominations, 10% are followers of major Protestant traditions, and 5% belong to Brazilian Evangelical churches. The Islamic population is estimated to be between 80,000 and 90, 000, which is less than 1% of the total population.
Islamic and Anti-Islamic websites both had equal contribution in spreading the premise, though it was on two perspectives of scorn and appreciation. There are many reputed news outlets, websites and blogs which reported this flimsy news, and took various twists and turns to increase the candour.
India Today reported that Minister Roza Cruz e Silva was quoted by news agencies and Angolan newspapers as saying, “The process of legalisation of Islam has not been approved by the Ministry of Justice and Human rights, their mosque will be closed until further notice”, which was also reported on La Nouvelle Tribune, a French-language Beninese newspaper.
This story which was picked out by several other news outlets and added quotes of Silva and the President. Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos was quoted in Nigeria’s Osun Defender newspaper as saying “This is the final end of Islamic influence in our country”, according to Arutz Sheva, Silva was reported saying “Ban on Islam was necessary as Islam was contradictory to the customs of Angola culture”.
La Nouvelle Tribune also claimed that last October minaret of an Angolan mosques was brought down, and that the city of Zango “has gone further by destroying the only mosque in the city.” Though IBTimes also had an article published claiming the ban of Islam in Angola they first renounced the claim a week later subsequent to an interview with two officials at Angolan Embassy.
It is reported via a telephone conversation the official who preferred not to be named stated that “The Republic of Angola … it’s a country that does not interfere in religion,” following that, “We have a lot of religions there. It is freedom of religion. We have Catholic, Protestants, Baptists, Muslims and evangelical people.” He also refuted the statements reported to be made by the president of Angola as he mentioned “The president has been out of the country for a week,”. He also denies knowledge on the comments made by Cruz as they were not reported in their press. The second official in US Angolan Embassy recapitulated that the diplomatic seat has not been notified of any such ban on Islam.
The quotes from the Minister Cruz and the President of Angola supported along with pictures of dismantling mosques, reported to have occurred on October 2013, though actual photographs date back to 2003, paved way for many to advocate these hoax as true. A story on the ban of Islam in a Christian pre-dominant country is a reason to refuel the modern myth that Islam and Christianity cannot co-exist.