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Saturday, 23 July 2011 02:29
Religious Freedom Ranking:
3 out of 5 stars: Needs Improvement



The country of Tanzania was formed through the union of Tanganyika and the island of Zanzibar in 1964 after independence from the British. Zanzibar is somewhat autonomous with its own parliament and president. Tanzania has a population of 43.2 million people, 41.9 million living on the mainland and 1.3 million in Zanzibar. Sixty-two percent of the overall population is Christian. Muslims account for 35 percent and the remaining three percent belong to other religious groups. Zanzibar is 98 percent Muslim. Most of the Muslims in Tanzania are Sunni and the remaining are members of various Shi’a groups. Among the Christians, there are Roman Catholics, Protestants, Pentecostals, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Other religious groups present are Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Baha’is.

The Constitution states, "Without jeopardizing the laws applicable in the Union Republic, promotion of religion, worship and evangelization will be free and matters of personal voluntary choice, and activities pertaining to the administration of religions will be outside the jurisdiction of the State." In practice, the government generally respects the right to religious liberty. Missionaries are allowed to enter the country freely to proselytize, and citizens are allowed to go abroad for pilgrimages and other religious practices.

While members of all religions are governed by customary and statutory laws, Muslims on Zanzibar use Islamic law to govern cases of divorce, child custody, inheritance, and anything else that pertains specifically to Islamic law. Cases involving Islamic law cannot be appealed in courts in the mainland, but are rather brought to a special court consisting of the Zanzibar Chief Justice and five other sheikhs. There have been discussions to bring these Kadhi courts into the countries legal system as well as establishing them on the mainland. Muslim leaders have accused Christian groups of hindering the establishment of the courts on the mainland and blocking the countries membership in the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Religious groups must register with the government and must apply for an exemption certificate if they wish to import goods duty-free. Religious organizations are prohibited from engaging in political campaigns, and political candidates are prohibited from campaigning in churches or mosques or from using language intending to promote religious animosity for political purposes.

There is some tension between Muslims and Christians and between Muslim fundamentalists and moderate Muslims. Muslims complain of discrimination in employment and education. Islamic fundamentalists label the government a Christian government and criticize moderate Muslims who cooperate with the government and oppose Islamist reforms. In Zanzibar, members of the Zanzibar University Christian Students Association complained that Muslim students were given more opportunity to worship and more funding than non-Muslim students. There have also been conflicts involving government officials promoting one religion over another, and religious organizations promoting or condemning government candidates and officials. In 2010 the President had a conversation with several Muslim and Christian leaders in which he asked them not to speak about politics during religious services. A seven point communiqué outlining messages to their congregations was signed by the Minister of State and a sheikh and bishop representing other religious leaders.

There is a report that Muslims working in a tea manufacturing plant were forced to eat pork and drink alcohol. The government was brought in to investigate the incident.


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

Tanzania - New World Encyclopedia

Tanzania Country Profile- BBC News

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 19:05