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Monday, 23 November 2009 02:11
Religious Freedom Ranking:
3.5 out of 5 stars: Needs Improvement



Senegal is regarded as one of Africa’s model democracies, despite the widespread poverty. It has a multi-party system and a tradition of civilian rule. It also has one of the region’s more stable economies. However, there was a long running, low-profile separatist war in the southern Casamance region that had claimed hundreds of lives. A peace agreement was signed in 2004 by the government and the rebels bringing hopes of reconciliation.

Senegal has a population of 12.5 million people. The majority of the Senegalese, approximately 94 percent of the population, practice Islam. Most of these Muslims practice a combination of Sufi Islam and indigenous beliefs. Four percent of the population is Christian. There are Roman Catholics, various Protestant denominations, and syncretistic Christian-animist groups. The rest of the population practices either indigenous beliefs or no religion.

The Constitution declares that the state is secular and provides for freedom of religion. The government respects this right in practice. Some funding is provided to religious organizations for purposes such as education, public service, events and maintaining places of worship. All groups have potential access to these funds and there is often competition among the groups to receive them. Religious education is allowed in public elementary schools but the government allows only four hours a week to be used for this instruction. The classes are chosen by the children’s parents, whether Christian or Muslim. Religious classes are also permitted in religious schools that receive government funds and are not restricted.

Missionary activity is permitted, and foreign Christian missionaries are active in several regions of the country. Conversion is permitted, and there is no reported discrimination against minority religions. Relations between people of different faiths are generally good. There is a small movement of Islamicists who seek to abolish the secular state, but most Senegalese Muslims belong to traditional religious communities based on tribe or locality. Muslim brotherhoods exert a prominent influence but do so through the prestige of their position rather than through direct political organization.


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

Senegal - New World Encyclopedia

Senegal Country Profile- BBC News

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 19:19