Muslims threaten to flee Angola over 'persecutions'

Muslims pray at Jamia Mosque in Kenya's capital Nairobi on September 27, 2013. The Angolan Government has been accused of persecuting Muslims. JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Muslims in Angola are accusing the government of persecuting them and have threatened to leave the southern African country if this continued.

So far 11 mosques have either been destroyed or closed in the country, Muslim leaders alleged.

Muslims comprise between 2.5 to 3 per cent of Angola's overall population of 17 million people, which is predominantly Christian and indigenous religions.

The Muslim community is predominantly made up of foreigners, especially businessmen and migrants from West Africa -- mainly from Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal -- and Lebanon.

"We have no more space to pray on, now we are forced to leave Angola. We can not abandon our religion," Voice of America Radio quoted Alfa Mamadu Diallou as saying.

"We regret the Angolan government decision since are mosques have been built by our members' contribution."

"We will demand Amnesty International and American government support," he said.

Angolan authorities deny the allegations.

"There are no orders to destroy mosques. They are not persecuted," Mr Aristofanes dos Santos, the Angolan police spokesperson said.

"I would advise them to write to the Justice minister to assess the issue."

During the colonial era, and until the 1990s, one could not speak of a significant presence of Muslims in the country.

But in recent years the Muslim community in Angola has grown and Islamic activities have become more common in major cities.

Mosques have sprung up in a number of places and Koran schools have been built to teach Arabic language to adherents.

Some Angolans have also converted to Islam.

The Angolan constitution provides for freedom of religion.

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