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Angola Denies Islam Ban & Destruction Of Mosques

26/11/2013 10:31 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 10:59 GMT

Angolan diplomats in the United States have denied reports the government has banned Islam and begun demolishing mosques.

A rash of dubious reports announced the move this weekend, adding mosques were being already destroyed across the predominately Christian African country.

According to India Today, minister of culture Rosa Cruz e Silva announced the ban during an appearance on Friday at the 6th Commission of the National Assembly.

It wrote: "Silva was quoted by news agencies and Angola newspapers as saying, 'The process of legalisation of Islam has not been approved by the Ministry of Justice and Human rights, their mosques would be closed until further notice."

It added: "Not just Islam, many other faiths which have not been legalised will face closure of their houses of worship."

Barenaked Islam cited a report claiming mosques were being dismantled as early as October, while Nigerian daily the Osun Defender cited Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos as saying: "This is the final end of Islamic influence in our country."

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Some outlets, including JihadWatch, published images purporting to show the destruction of an Angolan minaret, though a Google Image search found the image was earlier used in a report in December 2003 outlining the destruction of homes and a mosque in Morocco.

On Monday an unnamed official from the Angolan Embassy in Washington DC told the IB Times the reports were untrue.

He said: "The Republic of Angola... it's a country that does not interfere in religion.

"We have a lot of religions there. It is a freedom of religion. We have Catholic, Protestants, Baptists, Muslims and evangelical people."

The channel adds the official denied knowledge that Cruz had made such comments. “I cannot confirm if the minister of culture said that. I cannot find that in our press,” he said.

A second official at the Angolan Embassy added: “At the moment we don’t have any information about that. We’re reading about it just like you on the Internet. We don’t have any notice that what you’re reading on the Internet is true.”

There has been no official comment from the Angolan government and as yet no clues as to how the story spread so fast.

Of the country's 16million population, between 80-90,000 are Muslims, according to 2008 figures from the US Department of State.

Angola Islam 'ban' reaction