| Religious Freedom Ranking:
4 out of 5 stars: Good
Mali has a population of 14.5 million people. Among these 90 percent are Muslim and the majority is Sunni. The others refer to themselves as Shi’ite or Ahl-al Sunna. One percent of the population is Christian and approximately two-thirds are Catholic and one-third is Protestant. The remaining people either practice indigenous beliefs or do not practice any religion. After decades of discontent and political instability since its independence from France in 1960, Mali has seen rapid economic growth since the 1990’s. Furthermore, it has changed from a military dictatorship to a democratic state. Mali also claims to have the freest broadcast and print media in Africa.
The Constitution states, "The State shall undertake to guarantee the exercise of all religions and beliefs, in accordance with custom and with respect for public order," and declares Mali to be a secular state. For the most part the government does not discriminate on religious grounds, and citizens are free to practice their faiths. The government has the power to prohibit any religious publication that defames another religion. However there are no accounts that this has happened recently. It also requires that all religious groups except indigenous religions register with the government, but groups that fail to do so are not penalized. Public schools do not teach religious courses, but there are private schools that teach both Muslim and Christian beliefs.
There are no reports of governmental or societal abuses of religious freedom. The country and its people have a long standing tradition of religious tolerance. It is common to have members of the same family practice different religions and people often attend ceremonies involving different religions such as weddings and baptisms.
There has been one report of a forced religious conversion involving the terrorist group Al-Qa’ida. In 2009 and Spanish aid worker was abducted and held hostage. She was released in 2010 after she reportedly converted to Islam. There are fears that Mali is being used as a sanctuary for terrorist militants because it has not adopted a strong stance towards Al-Qa’ida. This has led to tensions between Mali and neighboring states.
2010 U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom Report on Mali
Mali - New World Encyclopedia
Mali Country Profile- BBC News