Religion

12,947,000Population

245,857 Km2Area

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homekeyboard_arrow_rightGuinea Conakry

Legal framework on freedom of religion and actual application

The laws of the country provide for full religious freedom including the right to choose one’s religion and to convert to another religion.[1] Guinea Conakry has great ethnic and religious diversity, and in practice these rights are generally respected, although the government has authoritarian tendencies. After more than 50 years of autocratic rule under President Sekou Touré (1958-84) and Lansana Conté (1984-2008) and a number of short-lived transitional regimes, Guinea held its first largely free presidential elections in 2010. In October 2015, President Alpha Condé achieved almost 58 percent of the vote and was re-elected for a second and final five-year term.

Muslims are the majority population in all regions of the country. Christian communities are located particularly in the larger cities as well as in the south and east of the country. The country is also home to small groups of Bahá’í, Hindus and Buddhists.

Religious coexistence is traditionally good in Guinea. To date, Islamic fundamentalism has had little support in Guinea.[2] The attitude of local Muslims towards other religions has traditionally been relatively moderate. An interfaith council works closely with the government on religious affairs.[3]

Religious communities must register with the Secretariat of Religious Affairs (SRA). Each registered faith group must report on its activities every six months. Registered groups receive tax exemptions and energy grants. There were no reports of major difficulties in this regard during the reporting period.[4]

Religious communities cannot own radio or television stations, but they can broadcast religious programmes on state-run television channels.[5] These include broadcasting Muslim Friday prayers, Islamic religious instruction, and Sunday Christian worship services.

The SRA has inspectors throughout the country who monitor religious worship including homilies. Topics for weekly sermons are set and religious communities are monitored for compliance.[6]

In the field of education, there is a strict separation between state and religion. According to the official curriculum, there is no religious instruction. But there are many private schools in the country, run by both Muslim and Christian religious communities, and many of these also receive support from local authorities.

Incidents

The SRA provides assistance to religious pilgrims. During the Ebola epidemic of 2014-2015, however, 10,000 Muslim pilgrims who had received assistance were not able to travel to Mecca, as they were denied entry to Saudi Arabia as a result of the epidemic. Since then, pilgrims from Guinea have been allowed to travel to Mecca once again.[7] During the reporting period, the state contributed some US$ 3.4 million to pay the cost of the pilgrimage for 6,000 Guineans.[8]

The government now also subsidises Christians to go on pilgrimage to Europe and the Holy Land. Around US$ 217,000 was spent for travel expenses in 2016, compared to US$ 325,000 in 2015. The grants are now set to be provided to different Christian denominations on a rotating basis.[9]

Relationships between the various religious communities in the country are essentially good.

As in other countries of West Africa, the spread of jihadist Islamism is a source of concern for many people in Guinea as well. The government closed a mosque near the international airport in Conakry, stating that this was a preventive measure in the wake of jihadist terror attacks in neighbouring countries.[10]

Meanwhile, Guinea is recovering from the Ebola epidemic that broke out in the spring of 2014, paralysing the country.[11] The epidemics caused great harm to some religious communities; families were destroyed and village communities torn apart.

The country has high levels of crime and corruption and it has become a hub for drug trafficking in West Africa.[12]

Prospects for freedom of religion

The consequences for Guinea of the spread of jihadism in West Africa remain to be seen. Thus far, the country – which has a long tradition of peaceful coexistence among religions – has successfully managed to defend itself against jihadist groups. An encouraging sign for stability is that the judiciary is responsive to complaints of intolerance.

Endnotes / Sources

[1] Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, ‘Guinea’, International Religious Freedom Report for 2016, U.S. State Department, https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/index.htm#wrapper, (accessed 2nd April 2018).

[2] ‘Munzinger Länder: Guinea’, Munzinger Archiv 2018, https://www.munzinger.de/search/start.jsp, (accessed 30th March 2018).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Cf. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, ‘Guinea’, International Religious Freedom Report for 2014, U.S. State Department, https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2014religiousfreedom/index.htm#wrapper, (accessed 2nd April 2018).

[10] Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (2016), op. cit.

[11] Munzinger Archiv 2018.

[12] Tobias Zick, ‘Am Drogen-Highway Nummer 10’, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 31st July 2016, http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/guinea-am-drogen-highway-nummer-1.3101914, (accessed on 11th February 2018).

 

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