There were reports of abuses of religious freedom in the country, including religious prisoners and detainees.
In 2010 police intimidated, arrested, detained, and killed Protestant pastors involved with the Ecclesiastic Movement (Hetsiky ny mpitondra Fivavahana, or “HMF”). During an unauthorized demonstration of the HMF in May 2010, Ranaivo Rivoharison, an FJKM pastor, was shot and killed during clashes between protesters, a rebel faction of the gendarmerie who had offered them protection, and the state security forces. After the demonstration, police arrested FJKM Pastor Valisoa Lilia Rafanomezantsoa, beat him, and charged him with murder, incitement to rebellion, and attempting to threaten state security. Soon afterward, police arrested a second FJKM pastor, Tiburce Soavianarivo, during a raid on the FJKM radio station Fahazavana for allegedly spreading false news and inciting civil disobedience. During the year, de facto authorities released both arrested pastors under bail (“liberte provisoire”), but reportedly, at year’s end, they continued to receive threats of arrest from official and anonymous sources when they planned public appearances.
Police threatened additional leaders of the HMF movement with arrest. Police apparently targeted members of the FJKM, and particularly the HMF, due to the organization’s political activities and association with ousted President Marc Ravalomanana and his supporters rather than as an explicit policy by the regime to limit religious freedom.
In November 2010 the police arrested FJKM Pastor Tsarahame Edouard for holding a public meeting without authorization. De facto authorities reportedly targeted him for his proximity to former President Albert Zafy rather than for religious reasons. Authorities released him in January.
During the year, the de facto authorities granted HMF leaders within FJKM the right to hold a public prayer meeting only once, on May 20, approving the use of a different location than the one requested by the HMF. The de facto authorities, through the Prefect of Police, denied dozens of other requests from the HMF to hold demonstrations and public prayer meetings in municipal stadiums and on private church property.
Muslim leaders estimated as many as 4 percent of Muslims do not have citizenship, despite being born in the country and having longstanding family roots. The law stipulates that if the parents of a child do not have Malagasy citizenship, the child is ineligible for citizenship. Given that many of the country’s Muslims are of South Asian background, this policy affected the Muslim community in particular. Lack of citizenship prohibited this community from eligibility to vote and to enjoy important civic benefits. If members of this community were eligible to apply for citizenship, they suggested that a Muslim-sounding name alone could delay one’s citizenship application indefinitely; others suggested that their ethnic and religious affiliation sometimes limited their access to government services and financial assistance.
Despite the MOI’s registration requirements, ministry officials estimated in 2008 that there were more than 1,000 religious organizations in the country operating without official state recognition, including both simple associations and unregistered organizations. However, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God remained banned after overstepping the limits of its registration in 2005.
State-run media granted religious organizations free access to state media provided its use constituted a public service. Malagasy National Television (TVM) provided free broadcast time every Sunday morning for five hours to the Malagasy Bible Society and churches that are members of FFKM. Several evangelical denominations also signed contracts with TVM, approved by the station’s director, to purchase broadcast time on weekdays. TVM also provided Muslims free broadcast time twice daily during Ramadan. National radio provided 30 minutes weekly to the FFKM, each of its four branches, the Adventist church, and Muslims, as well as an additional 30 minutes of religious musical programming.