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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal 2000 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom:
Guinea-Bissau

Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
U.S. Department of State, September 5, 2000
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GUINEA-BISSAU

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government 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 respects this right in practice. The Government at all levels generally protects this right in full, and does not tolerate its abuse, either by governmental or private actors. There is no state religion.

The Government requires that religious groups be licensed; however, no applications have been refused. There were no reports that new applications were made during the period covered by this report.

Religious Demography

About half the population follows traditional indigenous religious practices. Approximately 45 percent of the population are Muslim and about 5 percent are Christian. There are few atheists. The Muslim population is concentrated in the Fula and Mandinka ethnic groups, and Muslims generally live in the north and northeast. Christians are concentrated in Bissau and other large towns. Practitioners of traditional religions inhabit the rest of the country.

Christians belong to a number of groups, including the Roman Catholic Church and various Protestant denominations. Missionaries from numerous Christian denominations have long been active. Muslims generally adhere to a tolerant "African-style" Islam.

All religions were tolerated prior to the outbreak of civil conflict in June 1998, and there have been no reports of discrimination based on religious belief since that time. Historically, political affiliation has not been related directly to ethnic or religious affiliation. Members of all major faiths are represented in the Interim Government that was inaugurated in February 1999, in the National Assembly, and in the military junta that led the rebellion against President Joao Vieira in 1998.

Numerous foreign missionary groups have long operated in the country without restriction. While many missionaries left following the June 1998 conflict, others stayed and continue to operate unmolested.

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

Relations between the various religious communities are generally amicable. Society is tolerant on religious matters.

There have been no reports of significant ecumenical movements or activities to promote greater mutual understanding and tolerance.

Section III. U.S. Government Policy

There has been no official U.S. presence in country since June 1998.1 The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights during periodic visits to the country by U.S. officials.

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