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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal 2000 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom:
Republic of The Gambia

Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
U.S. Department of State, September 5, 2000
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Republic of The Gambia

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report.

Both government policy and the generally amicable relationship among religions in society contribute to the free practice of religion.

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights.

Section I. Government Policies on Freedom of Religion

Legal/Policy Framework

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.

The Government does not require religious groups to register. Religiously based nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) are subject to the same registration and licensing requirements as other NGO's.

Religious Demography

Muslims constitute over 90 percent of the population. The main Muslim branches are Tijaniyah, Qadiriyah, Muridiyah, and Ahmadiyah. Except for the Ahmadiyah, all branches pray together at common mosques. An estimated 9 percent of the population practice Christianity and 1 percent practice animism. The Christian community is predominantly Roman Catholic; there also are several Protestant denominations, including Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and various small Protestant evangelical denominations.

The Government permits and does not limit religious instruction in schools. Bible and Koranic studies are provided in both public and private schools throughout the country without government restriction or interference. Religious instruction in public schools is provided at government expense, but is not mandatory.

Governmental Restrictions on Religious Freedom The Government still refuses to allow the imam of the largest mosque in Brikama to lead prayers at the mosque, both as a result of a 1998 dispute over construction work at a mosque and due to pressure from his opponents in the community. The High Court ruled in favor of the imam in February 1999 and acquitted him of charges of destruction of property. However, the Government has appealed to the Supreme Court; the appeal remained pending at mid-2000.

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report.

There were no reports of religious detainees or prisoners.

Forced Religious Conversion of Minor U.S. Citizens

There were no reports of the forced religious conversion of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the Government's refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

Section II. Societal Attitudes

There are amicable relations between the various religious communities. Intermarriage between members of different religious groups is legal and socially acceptable.

Section III. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Embassy discusses religious freedom with the Government in the overall context of the promotion of human rights.

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