The constitution and most other laws and policies generally protect religious freedom, but a newly implemented law impedes religious freedom by granting the government oversight of all mosques.
Although the constitution states that Islam is the state religion, the law does not impose sanctions on those who do not observe Islamic teachings or who practice other religious beliefs. The constitution does not prohibit proselytizing.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has authority over all Islamic matters and institutions, including mosques, private religious schools (together with the Education Ministry), and religious events.
A law enacted during the year aims to eliminate political activity from mosques, give management oversight of mosque assets to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, and permit the ministry to select weekly sermon themes. Implementation of the law is uneven. According to government officials, the law is designed to counter perceived foreign influence in the country’s mosques.
The public school system is secular. Public schools do not teach religion. There are approximately 40 private Islamic schools.
Some civil servants, such as inspectors and magistrates, are required to swear secular oaths. The president swears an Islamic religious oath. While there is no penalty established by law for noncompliance, it remains an official custom.
Muslims resolve matters such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance in family courts whose code includes elements of civil and Islamic law. Civil courts address the same matters for non-Muslims.
The government recognizes only Islamic or civil marriages.
The government requires that a religious group register by submitting an application to the Interior Ministry, which investigates the group. Foreign religious groups have the added step of gaining approval from the Foreign Ministry. Once approved, the group signs a two-year agreement detailing the scope of the group’s activities. The approval process is lengthy due in part to required background investigations.
The government permits Muslim foreign clergy and missionaries, as well as a small number of Somali Christian missionaries, to perform charitable works and sell religious books. The government permits Western non-Muslim missionaries to enter the country on tourist visas and to operate NGOs. The government licenses foreign missionary groups to operate orphanages.