The constitution stipulates the state shall be separate from religious institutions and shall respect and protect legally recognized religious groups, whose activities shall be subject to the law. It holds freedom of conscience and religion as inviolable, even if the state declares a state of siege, and provides for freedom of worship as long as it does not violate the fundamental principles cited in the constitution. It establishes that all citizens are equal under the law, with the same rights and obligations, irrespective of their religion. Political parties and labor unions are barred from affiliating with a particular religious group. The constitution recognizes the freedom of religious groups to teach their faith.
The government requires religious groups to obtain licenses. The formal process, which is not often followed, entails providing the name, location, type, and size of the organization to the Ministry of Justice. Under the law, religious groups are recognized as associations and benefit from tax exemptions.
In accordance with the constitution, there is no religious instruction in public schools. The Ministry of Education regulates and enforces the decree against religious teaching in public schools. There are some private schools operated by religious groups.
The country is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
In September, during a press conference, Attorney General Fernando Gomes expressed concern regarding how the right to freedom of expression was exercised in the country. He said that through mass media, including radio and internet, there was what he termed an “increasing wave of verbal attacks and insults by some citizens, often using abusive words that encourage hatred, ethnic, and religious divisions.” He exhorted citizens and the media to respect a diversity of opinions and to strengthen Guinean democracy by repudiating any form of inappropriate language.
On August 27, the government announced it would introduce the teaching of the Arabic language in schools. Minister of Education Arceni Balde stated that one of the objectives of the measure was to “place Muslim students at the same level as students from other religious denominations,” a stance that was heavily criticized by opponents of the decision. The president of the civil society group Movement of Conscious and Nonconformed Citizens said the Minister’s words were a sign of discrimination and further stated it was necessary “to condemn and denounce the appropriation of state institutions to foment tribalism and religious discrimination.” According to media reporting, various sectors of society regarded the initiative as an attempt to “reinforce the country’s Islamization.”
In September, President Sissoco said the proposal to introduce the teaching of Arabic in the country’s school system would not be implemented. He stated, “We are a secular country. In our society, in our system, Arabic is not part of our teaching. Here it is Portuguese, French, and English.”