Comoros: Update to COM31329.F of 5 March 1999 on the situation of Christians
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||27 August 2003|
|Citation / Document Symbol||COM41847.FE|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Comoros: Update to COM31329.F of 5 March 1999 on the situation of Christians, 27 August 2003, COM41847.FE, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/403dd1ee8.html [accessed 26 April 2015]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
According to the International Religious Freedom Report 2002, there are about 300 Christians living in Comoros, and they account for less than 1 per cent of the population (7 Oct. 2002, Sect. I). The country's official religion is Islam (Country Reports 2002 31 Mar. 2003, Sect. 2.c). While the December 2001 constitution guarantees freedom of religion, the authorities infringe on this provision and restrict the rights of Christians (International Religious Freedom Report 2002 7 Oct. 2002, Introduction). In practice, the Comoran government encourages the practice of Islam only (ibid., Sect. II). Local and religious authorities on Anjouan harassed Christians in 2002 by banning them from attending community events and banning Christian burials in local cemeteries (ibid.). About 50 Christians were reportedly detained by the Anjouanais authorities between 1999 and 2000 (ibid.).
Societal discrimination against Christians is widespread in Comoros (ibid., Introduction). International Christian Concern stated that the perception of Christians in Comoros is "extremely negative" (Apr. 2002). According to the International Religious Freedom Report 2002,
Christians face insults and threats of violence from members of their communities. Christians have been harassed by mobs in front of mosques and called in for questioning by religious authorities. In some instances, families have forced Christian family members out of their homes or threatened them with a loss of financial support. Some Christians have had their Bibles taken by family members. Local government officials, religious authorities, and family members have attempted to force Christians to attend services at mosques against their will (7 Oct. 2002, Sect. III).
There are three Christian churches in Comoros (International Religious Freedom Report 2002 7 Oct. 2002, Sect. II). Apparently, only non‑citizens are allowed to visit these churches (Country Reports 2002 31 Mar. 2003, Sect. 2.c). Many Christians practise their faith in private (International Religious Freedom Report 2002 7 Oct. 2002, Sect. II). Foreign missionaries work in local schools and hospitals, but they are not allowed to proselytize (ibid.). Finally, according to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, [UN English version] "the right to conscientious objection on religious grounds is allegedly not recognized by law. The religious activities of Christians are said to be restricted when they are addressed to Muslims" (14 Feb. 2000).
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2002. 31 March 2003. United States Department of State. Washington, DC.
International Christian Concern. April 2002. "Africa: Comoros."
International Religious Freedom Report 2002. 7 October 2002. United States Department of State. Washington, D.C.
United Nations. 14 February 2000. Commission on Human Rights. (E/CN.4/2000/65) Droits civils et politiques et, notamment : intolérance religieuse.
Additional Sources Consulted
Internet sites, including:
Bible League of Canada
Human Rights Watch