Religious Leaders in Guinea Bissau Decry Surge in Attacks on Places of Worship

Fr. Augusto Mutna Tamba reading the statement of religious leaders in Guinea-Bissau. Credit: Catholic Diocese of Bafatá

Religious leaders in Guinea Bissau have called for the respect of “fundamental rights” amid several cases of attacks on places of worship of traditional religions and evangelical churches.

In a Thursday, March 21 statement, the leaders of the National Islamic Council, the Catholic Dioceses of Bissau and Bafatá, the National Union of Imams, the National Council of Evangelical Churches of Guinea-Bissau and Traditional Religion condemned what they consider “sad episodes.”

“Recently, a sad and unprecedented, faceless campaign was unleashed in Bissau to set fire to the sacred places of traditional religions, which, in response, led to the violation, followed by arson, of the doors of the Evangelical Church of Mindará. These acts occur without any apparent reason to justify them,” the religious leaders said.

They added, “We condemn all acts of religious intolerance in the country and to call for their immediate end.”

“We urge the people of Guinea-Bissau to commit themselves to preserving peace and national unity, as well as to respecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens, including religious freedom,” the religious leaders said in the statement that was read by Fr. Augusto Mutna Tamba.


They added, “The ability of Bissau-Guineans to understand each other and live together in diversity dates back to the earliest days of the existence of the peoples that make up Guinea-Bissau's ethnic and cultural mosaic and has been preserved from generation to generation until the present day.”

The religious leaders lamented that in Guinea-Bissau cultural and religious diversity had never been a threat to the cohesion and peaceful coexistence of its peoples.

For long therefore, they said, the country had enjoyed peaceful coexistence apart from occasional political differences.

The said that the country’s traditional values of peace and social cohesion needed to be permanently cultivated, exalted and disseminated “so that they can continue to be the common denominator for Guineans, wherever they come from.”

“Our society is challenged on a daily basis to prove its resilience in the face of incessant attempts to disturb social peace and tranquility, through the production and dissemination, in recent times, of hate speech that in some way erodes national cohesion,” the religious leaders said, and called on citizens to refrain from “uttering, publicizing or disseminating sectarian and radical speeches capable of encouraging hatred and intolerance among Guineans.”

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The religious leaders urged the competent authorities to ensure security conditions for all citizens, particularly for access to their places of worship.

They also appealed to the judicial authorities to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for acts of religious intolerance that tend to jeopardize peace and national cohesion.

The religious leaders also called on citizens to “choose peaceful and legal means as the only way to resolve our differences, regardless of their nature, always with the aim of preserving social peace and national cohesion.”

João Vissesse is an Angolan Journalist with a passion and rich experience in Catholic Church Communication and Media Apostolate.