The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom; however, the constitution states that citizens will draw governing principles and rules from Islamic tenets and that Islam is the state religion.
Proselytizing for any religion except Islam is illegal and the law provides for deportation of foreigners who do so. The law provides for prosecution of converts from Islam, but penalties are ill-defined.
The president nominates the grand mufti, who is part of the government and manages issues concerning religion and religious administration. The grand mufti’s position is attached to the Ministry of Justice, Public Service, Administrative Reforms, Human Rights, and Islamic Affairs, and he counsels the government on matters of the practice of Islam and Islamic law. The grand mufti periodically consults with a group of elders to assess whether principles of Islam are being respected and he regularly addresses the country on the radio regarding social and religious issues, such as delinquency, alcohol abuse, marriage, divorce, and education.
The government does not require religious groups to be licensed, registered, or officially recognized.
While the study of Islam is not compulsory in public schools, the tenets of Islam are sometimes taught in conjunction with Arabic in public schools at the middle school level. The public school system is in disarray and curricula vary widely; private schools with French curricula and madrassahs fill the gap. There is no provision for religious education of religious minorities in public schools; however, foreigners can request that their children not receive Islamic instruction or Arabic language training. Almost all children between the ages of four and seven attend private schools at least part-time to learn to read and recite the Quran. Although attendance is subject to social pressure, there is no government sanction for opting out.
The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: the Birth of the Prophet Muhammad, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Kabir, and Islamic New Year.