The constitution guarantees freedom of religion and its public expression and prohibits compelling participation in religious ceremonies. Roman Catholicism is the state religion, and state ceremonies often include Catholic rituals. Religious groups must apply to the government to build a public place of worship and to receive recognition, which provides certain legal rights and privileges. Optional Catholic religious instruction is available in public schools. Jehovah’s Witnesses stated that, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the group did not apply again for recognition as a religious group, after three government rejections in prior years. Without recognition, the government and Jehovah’s Witnesses said the group could not open a place of worship in the country.
The only private religious schools were Catholic. According to the government, while the law permits private, non-Catholic religious schools, there was insufficient demand for them. Muslim, Protestant, and Jewish representatives again said there was no need for them to open a religious school but believed the government would likely agree, if asked, to a request to open one.
In December, the U.S. Consul General in Marseille discussed the state of religious freedom in the country with a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In September, a representative from the Consulate General in Marseille discussed issues pertaining to religious freedom with members of the Jehovah’s Witness, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim communities. These issues included whether there had been any religiously motivated incidents or limits restricting religious practices, the establishment of places of worship, and government attitudes towards religious schools.