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The Mozambican State Security and Intelligence Service (SISE) has asked the Maputo city government to help map mosques, in the wake of the armed violence that has been plaguing Cabo Delgado, a province with strong Islamic influence, Lusa reports today.
“SISE asked us to map mosques because of the criminal and barbaric events in Cabo Delgado, but it was found that [the violence] has nothing to do with religious motives,” Director of Justice, Constitutional and Religious Affairs of Maputo City Cosme Nyusi told Radio Mozambique.
The director did not elaborate on the mapping of mosques but said that, after working with Muslim leaders and believers, the authorities began a process of identifying all religious denominations operating in Maputo as a follow-up to their work in the capital.
The ongoing action is motivated by the exponential increase of religious denominations and sects in Mozambique, a phenomenon sometimes accompanied by practices considered illegal and unconstitutional.
The study identified about 30 religious denominations seen as being in an illegal situation in Maputo’s seven municipal districts, plus about 300 being in a regularised situation.
“This state action is not about controlling how faith is practised, because the state is secular, but to follow the legality of its action,” Cosme Nyusi emphasised.
Nyusi said that the Mozambican government was preparing a bill on religious freedom and worship which would emphasise the moral role of churches and the exercise of faith within the Constitution and the law.
The future bill will intensify the necessity for theological training of religious leaders and set guidelines on believers’ donations.
The northern province of Cabo Delgado, scene of intense multinational activity in preparation for natural gas extraction there, has been the target of attacks by armed men since October 2017 which have already caused more than a hundred deaths and injuries.
The Mozambican government has presented contradictory interpretations of the violence in the region, pointing to religious motivations associated with Islamism at various times, but relating it to ‘garimpeiros’ [artisanal miners] at others.
Recently, a suspected branch of the Islamic State claimed to have killed several Mozambican soldiers during a confrontation in Cabo Delgado, but the occurrence has never been confirmed by Mozambican authorities.Source: Lusa