Republic of Congo gov't bans face veils, sleeping in mosques

AP News
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Posted: May 02, 2015 10:29 AM

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo (AP) — The Republic of Congo's government is banning women from being fully veiled in public to allow easy identification to prevent extremist violence, the president of the Islamic High Council said.

The Muslim population in Republic of Congo, which is a minority, is reacting positively to the measure announced earlier this week, El Hadj Djibril Bopaka said Saturday.

"So far we have not found any hostile reaction to the ban on headscarves in public places," he said, noting that women can still wear veils in public, but can only cover their faces at home.

The government will also ban non-residents from sleeping in mosques in order to encourage refugees to register with police, he said.

"Many Muslim brothers from Central Africa are being housed in mosques and not presenting themselves to authorities. We do not know what they are up to," he said, calling the mosque a sacred place. Many refugees from Central African Republic have fled insecurity in their country.

Malian trader Demba Ndhao who has been in Republic of Congo since 1998 said the measures will help prevent those active with terrorist groups in neighboring countries from bringing disorder to this country.

Republic of Congo has a population of some 800,000 registered Muslims. The country is more than 90 percent Christian, and the remaining 10 percent includes Muslims and those who follow traditional animist beliefs. The country has not suffered from extremist activities or the religious violence seen in neighboring Cameroon and Central African Republic.