The constitution establishes a secular state and provides for freedom of religious thought, expression, and practice. All religious groups must register with the government. Five followers of the Baname Church died on January 28 from asphyxiation in the Department of Oueme after the church leadership advised them to seal themselves in prayer rooms and burn incense and charcoal. The prosecutor at the Court of Porto-Novo ordered the detention of four leaders of the church in connection with the incident and in February brought manslaughter charges against them.
On June 8, two persons died and several were injured during a violent clash between followers of the Baname Church and local residents of the Djime neighborhood in Abomey due to church followers’ statements that local residents deemed offensive to the historic King of Abomey. On August 20, members of the Zangbeto brotherhood prevented members of the Church of the Assemblies of God from attending Sunday services in Doukonta, in the southwest, after the church pastor accused them of stealing a chicken from him for a ritual purpose. Interfaith dialogue occurred regularly throughout the country.
Embassy officials toured three predominantly Muslim cities in the northern part of the country to meet with Muslim leaders, Muslim women’s associations, and Quranic teachers. Discussions focused on religious freedom issues, interfaith dialogue, and the rejection of religious intolerance and violence. The Ambassador participated in interreligious events, where she advocated interreligious dialogue in support of peace.