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Sunday, 15 May 2011 00:00

Religious Freedom Ranking:

2.5 out of 5 stars: Poor


Chad has struggled with religion-fueled violence between Christians and Muslims since their independence, as well as violence within the Muslim community. Most of the fighting within the Muslim community is between fundamentalists and the government, whom they believe to be too tolerant of other practices. Rebellion, guerilla war, and coups had made the climate in the region very tense. However, tensions stabilized somewhat in the 1990’s when a constitution was written, and democratic multi-party elections were held in 1996 and 1997. Power rests in the hands of a northern oligarchy. Rebellion broke out in the north in 1998 and has been continuing since. There has also been unrest spilling into the country from Sudan’s neighboring Darfur region since 2003, and both sides have accused the other of harboring rebels. However, some progress was made in 2010 when both presidents met for the first time in six years.

Chad has 11 million citizens. More than half of the people are Muslim, and most of them follow the Sufi Tijaniyah tradition. Approximately one third of the population is Christian, most being Roman Catholic, and the rest practice indigenous religion or have no beliefs. Most of the country’s northern region is Muslim, while the other groups are predominantly in the south. However, according to the U.S. State Department the country has recently seen a proliferation of mosques in the southas well.

The Constitution states that the state is secular. It also provides for freedom of religion and states that any faiths may worship without government constraint. In practice, the government, which is largely made up of Muslims, shows slight favoritism to Muslim groups. However, the government has also banned one Muslim group, Al Faydal Djaria, for practicing singing and dancing during their services. (This is banned in Muslim law.) The government has also sought to curtail the activities of fundamentalists whom they consider to be inciting religious discord and encouraging violence.

The government also appoints a grand imam as the spiritual leader for Muslims who has the power in principle, rarely in practice, to restrict proselytizing by Islamic groups, regulate the content of sermons in the mosques, and exert control over Islamic charities. Although the government is officially secular, it sponsors an annual hajj. Furthermore, religious leaders are involved in managing the country’s wealth. A representative of the religious community, either Christian or Muslim as the seat rotates every four years, sits on the Revenue Management College. This group oversees the use of oil reserves.

2010 U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom Report on Chad

Chad - New World Encyclopedia
Chad Country Profile- BBC News

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 20:48