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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal 2000 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom:
Mali

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

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.

Relations between the Muslim majority and Christian and other religious minorities are generally amicable.

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 law allows for religious practices that do not pose a threat to social stability and peace. The Constitution declares the country a secular state. Family law, including laws surrounding divorce, marriage, and inheritance, are based on a mixture of local tradition and Islamic law and practice.

The Government requires that all public associations, including religious associations, register with the Government. However, registration confers no tax preference and no other legal benefits, and failure to register is not penalized in practice. The registration process is routine and is not burdensome. Traditional indigenous religious are not required to register.

The Minister of Territorial Administration and Collectives can prohibit religious publications that he concludes defame another religion, but there were no reports of instances in which publications were prohibited.

Religious Demography

Muslims make up about 90 percent of the population, and the vast majority of Muslims are Sunni. About 5 percent of the population are Christian, and the Christian community is about evenly split between Catholic and Protestant denominations. Most of the remainder of the population practice traditional indigenous religions or no religion. Atheism or agnosticism is rare. Most immigrants are from neighboring countries and either practice the majority Muslim faith or belong to a Christian group.

There are no geographic concentrations or segregation of religious groups. Christian communities tend to be located in and around urban areas, because of the work of urban based missionaries. However, Christians are found throughout the country. Animists also practice throughout the country, but are most active in rural areas. The vast majority of citizens practice their religion daily. Islam is tolerant and adapted to local conditions. Women participate in economic and political activity, engage in social interaction, and do not wear veils.

Persons are free to change their religion. Foreign missionary groups operate in the country, and Muslims and non-Muslims may proselytize freely. Most known foreign missionary groups are Christian groups, which are based in Europe and are engaged in development work. However, they do not link the benefits of their development activities to conversion. A number of U.S.-based Christian missionary groups also operate in the country.

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 Muslim majority and the Christian and other religious minorities--including practitioners of traditional indigenous religions--are generally amicable. Adherents of a variety of faiths may be found within the same families. Many followers of one religion attend religious ceremonies of other religions, especially weddings and funerals. Non-Muslim missionary communities live and work in the country without difficulty. Christian missionaries, especially the rural-based development workers, enjoy good relations within their communities.

Section III. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Embassy discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the overall context of the promotion of human rights. Embassy officers meet regularly with religious authorities and government officials in ministries dealing with these issues. During a civil society meeting hosted by the Embassy, Catholic, Protestant, Sunni, and Shi'a leaders were invited to join secular leaders and traditional religious authorities in an open discussion on issues important to society. The Embassy maintains contacts with the foreign missionary community, and monitors the situation for indications that religious freedom may be threatened by the Government or societal pressures. Embassy officers have raised the issue of religious freedom through public diplomacy programs.

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