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Diplomacy in Action

Mali


Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Report
October 26, 2009

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The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contributed to the generally freed practice of religion.

The Government generally respected religious freedom in practice. There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the Government during the reporting period.

There were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice.

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom with the Government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights.

Section I. Religious Demography

The country has an area of 474,764 square miles and a population of 12.7 million. Muslims make up an estimated 90 percent of the population. Nearly all Muslims are Sunni. Most of these are Sufi; however, a sizeable minority reject Sufi traditions and refer to themselves as Sunnite or Ahl-al Sunna. An estimated 5 percent of the population is Christian; the Christian community is approximately two-thirds Catholic and one-third Protestant. The remaining 5 percent practices indigenous religious beliefs or no religion. The majority of citizens practice their religion daily.

Groups that practice indigenous religious beliefs reside throughout the country, but are most active in rural areas.

There are several mosques associated with the fundamentalist group Dawa al Tabligh; however, their influence appears to have declined in recent years.

Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contributed to the generally free practice of religion. The law at all levels protects this right in full against abuse, either by governmental or private actors. The Constitution defines the country as a secular state and allows for religious practices that do not pose a threat to social stability and peace.

The Government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Mawloud, The Prophet's Baptism, Easter Monday, Eid al-Fitr, Tabaski (Eid al-Adha), and Christmas.

The Minister of Territorial Administration and Local Collectivities may prohibit religious publications that defame another religion; however, there were no reports of such prohibitions during the reporting period.

The Government requires the registration of all public associations, including religious associations; however, registration confers no tax preference or other legal benefits, and failure to register is not penalized in practice. The registration process is routine and not burdensome. The Government does not require indigenous religious groups to register.

The High Council of Islam (HCIM) serves as the main liaison between the Government and hundreds of local Muslim groups and associations. The Government frequently consults with the HCIM on social issues of national interest.

Prior to making important decisions on potentially controversial national issues, the Government consults with a "Committee of Wise Men" that includes the Catholic archbishop and Protestant and Muslim leaders.

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

The Government generally respected religious freedom in practice. There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the Government during the reporting period.

There were no reports of religious detainees or prisoners in the country.

Forced Religious Conversion

There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States or who had not been allowed to be returned to the United States.

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

There were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. The country has strong traditions of tolerance and openness that extend to religious practices and beliefs. Adherents of different religious groups are often part of the same family. Followers of one religion attend religious ceremonies of other religious groups, especially baptisms, weddings, and funerals.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom with the Government as part of its overall policy to promote human rights. Embassy officials expanded dialogue with Muslim groups to promote religious freedom, mutual understanding, and the continued secularism of the Government. The Embassy maintained contact with the foreign missionary community and worked with government officials and societal leaders to promote religious freedom.



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