Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom
During the night of July 1, according to media, unidentified individuals vandalized a Catholic church in Grand-Yapo, north of Abidjan. The parish priest said assailants destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary, scattered the fragments at the entrance to the church, and trampled on them. Authorities investigated the incident but made no arrests. The following day the Bishop of Agboville called for prayer, calm, and social cohesion.
On the evening of August 2, unknown individuals removed the head from a statue of the Virgin Mary in a Catholic church in Abobo-Doume, north of Abidjan.
During an October 12 religious service, the Catholic Archbishop of Abidjan encouraged political figures and members of the government to contribute to a calm and peaceful electoral year in 2020. He said that many citizens lived in fear because in the recent past, minor disputes had sometimes led to intercommunal (but not religiously motivated) conflict in the country.
Christian and Muslim religious leaders, civil society, government officials, and political leaders took part in the eighth Inter-Religious Conference for Peace hosted by the Sant’Egidio Community in Abidjan on October 4-6. Religious and political leaders as well as civil society representatives criticized what they called attempts by government officials to use their groups to advance their own causes. An imam from the Higher Council of Imams of Cote d’Ivoire (COSIM) said Christians and Muslims should work together to send messages of peace and unity to the population.
The director of the nationwide Muslim radio station Al-Bayane, an imam, told participants in a discussion on religious media outlets that he had a strong relationship with the Archbishop of Abidjan and stressed that listeners of his station included non-Muslims.
According to religious leaders and civil society, many persons reportedly regularly celebrated each other’s religious holidays by attending household or neighborhood gatherings, regardless of their own faith.