Eswatini

Executive Summary

The constitution prohibits religious discrimination and provides for freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including the right to worship, alone or in community with others, and to change religion or belief.  Although the law requires new religious groups to register, members of unregistered groups said they were generally able to operate freely, although one group complained of having a disadvantaged taxation status.  The policy of excluding the teaching of other religions other than Christianity in public schools remained in effect.  The Muslim community said this requirement increased misperceptions of their faith.  Widespread civil unrest broke out in June after the government limited some political freedoms, resulting in protests throughout the country.  Observers stated the civil unrest, along with COVID-19 restrictions, preoccupied the government and pre-empted reconsideration of the Christian education requirement.  Non-Christian groups said the government continued to provide favorable treatment to Christian beliefs and organizations, such as free access to radio and television time.  In September, the King said he had received a message from God and ordered the public to display signs proclaiming “Hallelujah” throughout the country for a period of one month.

Muslim leaders continued to report negative and/or suspicious views of Islam in society.  Muslim leaders and business owners stated they believed their businesses were targeted unfairly during the civil unrest in June and July, but sources stated it was unclear if this is due to religious or racial/ethnic bias.  Religious leaders said that due to the travel and public gathering restrictions from COVID-19 and ongoing civil unrest, formal interfaith dialogues did not take place during the year, but religious communities held informal discussions and sometimes collaborated on community service or development initiatives.

The Ambassador and other U.S. embassy officials engaged with government officials on religious freedom and tolerance issues.  The Ambassador and embassy officials also engaged with civil society, the academic community, and religious leaders of different faiths on religious issues, including the importance of developing and maintaining interfaith dialogue in the country.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future