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Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

Although IS-M fighters said they targeted Christians and Christian villages, reporters and local aid workers stated that in practice they made little distinction among their victims. Media reports indicated that IS-M targeted both Muslim and Christian communities. They occupied entire communities and burned religious and government structures, including in May when four Catholic priests fled to Tanzania after their mission was burned. On September 6, local media reported that IS-M fighters released two Brazilian nuns who had been kidnapped by IS-M; their release was facilitated by representatives of the Catholic Church, in cooperation with the government.

Prominent Muslim leaders continued to condemn the attacks in the northern part of the country, stating that the strict version of Islam preached by those allegedly responsible was not in line with the country’s traditional Islamic culture and practice.

Civil society and religious organizations conducted outreach to promote religious tolerance during the year. An interfaith group of leaders led an effort to provide food to needy families during the COVID-19 pandemic, distributing more than 50 tons of meat in several places around the country, in churches, mosques, and community centers. A September 26 interreligious prayer ceremony of Muslim and Christian leaders called for interfaith peace as a key component of economic and political development.

A coalition of religious groups from the northern provinces of Cabo Delgado, Nampula, and Niassa, and led by Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa and Islamic leader Nassuralah Dula, formed an interfaith network in November to support displaced civilian populations affected by the violence and to discuss resolution of the conflict.

On December 10, the Community of Sant’Egidio hosted a group of interreligious and civil society leaders in a symposium that focused on social harmony and cohesion.

International Religious Freedom Reports
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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future