| Religious Freedom Ranking:
2 out of 5 stars: Poor
Swaziland is one of the world’s last remaining complete monarchies. In 1973 the king dissolved the Constitution and banned all political parties. The current king has shown no enthusiasm towards sharing power. In 2006, a new constitution was introduced that solidified the king’s rule. Due to the country’s economic decline, people have become increasingly vocal in favor of political reform.
The country has a population of approximately one million people. Christianity is the dominant religion with 40 percent of the population African-Zionist, 20 percent Roman Catholic and 30 percent other Christian denominations including Anglicans, Methodists, and Mormons. Ten percent of the population is Muslim. Baha’is and Jews are also present in the country.
The Constitution provides for the freedom of religion and the government generally respects the right of all people to believe and practice as they wish. The primary exceptions to this have been cases where the government prevented prayer meetings from taking place and, in one case, disrupted a prayer meeting. These instances occurred because the government objected to the political nature of the events.
Minority religious groups are given less protection under the traditional laws and customs. There are over 250 chiefs in the country and several traditional courts, and when religious practice conflicts with traditional beliefs, chiefs will commonly raise community pressure against the minority religious groups. Also, the government gives air time only to Christian groups on government owned television and radio broadcasts.
Religious groups are required to register with the government, but there are no reports of any group being denied registration. Religious instruction, primarily Christian, is mandatory in primary school and elective in secondary school. The only organized religious youth clubs permitted to operate in schools are Christian.
In 2009 a Muslim orphanage sponsored by the United Arab Emirates was protested against by Christian religious leaders. The city council eventually permitted the orphanage to open in a different area. It is also reported that teachers often do not allow Muslim students to leave school early on Fridays to attend Mosque.
2010 U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom Report on Swaziland
Swaziland - New World Encyclopedia
Swaziland Country Profile- BBC News