This story has been updated.
Angola, a nation located in southern Africa, has reportedly become the first country in the world to officially ban Islam. In addition to outlawing the religion, India Today reported that “the demolition of mosques” will also be embraced as part of the new government policy.
But while multiple news outlets are making this claim, two sources at the Angolan Embassy in Washington, D.C., told the International Business Times on Monday that they have no knowledge of a crackdown on the Islamic faith in Angola.
These sources directly contradict earlier reports and alleged statements from lawmakers.
Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, for instance, reportedly said Sunday that the new regulations will usher in “the final end of Islamic influence” in the country.
While he is quoted as making this claim, one source who spoke on condition of anonymity told the International Business Times that Santos has not been in Angola for a week and would not have been able to offer these comments as reported.
The ban was first announced Friday by Angolan Minister of Culture Rosa Cruz e Silva, Israel’s Arutz Sheva reported. While Silva did not reference destroying mosques, she is quoted as advocating and mandating their closure.
“The process of legalization of Islam has not been approved by the Ministry of Justice and Human rights, their mosques would be closed until further notice,” Silva said according to India Today, adding that Islam is “contradictory to the customs of Angola culture.”
Islam isn’t the only religion being targeted: India Today reported that other religions will also be restricted under the law, though it is unclear which ones it will include.
The International Business Times pointed to inconsistencies surrounding the story.
“One such discrepancy is that a Google Images search shows that a photograph published by numerous news outlets this month that purportedly depicts the minaret of an Angolan mosque being dismantled in October 2012 had been used at least as early Jan. 23, 2008, when the Housing & Land Rights Network posted it to illustrate an article about the destruction of Bedouin homes in Israel,” the outlet reported.
Angola has an estimated population of approximately 20 million people, with the vast majority subscribing to Christianity of some sort, but with tens of thousands who belong to other religions.
“A small portion of the rural population practices animism or indigenous religious beliefs,” the U.S. Department of State described. “There is a small Muslim community, unofficially estimated at 80,000 to 90,000, most of whom are migrants from West Africa or of Lebanese origin.”
It is unclear if this latest ban is new or simply a continuation of previous policy. In its 2012 “Report on International Religious Freedom,” the State Department said that Angola was already scrutinizing non-traditional religious beliefs in the country.
Islamic leaders have said in the past that Angola doesn’t allow Muslims to practice freely and that the government has closed mosques and community centers, though many of those incidents happened at the local level, not on a national scale.
TheBlaze called the Angolan Embassy and was told that no one was available to take questions for this story.
(H/T: Arutz Sheva)