The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and both the constitution and the penal code prohibit discrimination based on religion. Any violation may be brought before a court of justice. Religious groups seeking financial support from the government are required to register with the Ministry of Home Affairs. Limited financial support is available, primarily as a stipend for clergy. The government subsidizes schools managed by religious organizations, providing a fee per registered student and the salaries of teachers. On October 27, the government reiterated its strong support for religious freedom and encouraged religious organizations to develop equitable values and norms in society during a workshop in honor of the International Day of Religious Freedom.
The Inter-Religious Council (IRIS), an organization of the country’s different religious groups, including two Hindu groups, two Muslim groups, the Jewish community, and the Catholic Church, continued to meet monthly to discuss planned interfaith activities and positions on government policies. Throughout the year, the IRIS made public statements on societal issues, including expressing support for freedom of religious practices and encouraging mutual respect among religious groups.
Embassy representatives met with a government official from the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Religious Organizations Office during the October 27th International Day of Religious Freedom roundtable. Embassy representatives also met with senior government officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At these meetings, the officials reiterated the government’s commitment to tolerance and pluralism. Embassy officials met with members of the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and Christian communities to discuss how the different organizations promoted respect for religious diversity within their communities. Embassy officials hosted a religious roundtable discussion in January to discuss the current status and a historical perspective on religious freedom and tolerance in the country. In October the embassy hosted a workshop in honor of the International Day of Religious Freedom. Embassy representatives emphasized U.S. government policy on promoting religious freedom and respect for religious diversity worldwide.