The constitution and other laws and policies generally protect religious freedom.
The constitution stipulates the state is secular and provides for the right of individuals to choose, change, and practice the religion of their choice.
The government’s Secretariat of Religious Affairs (SRA) aims to promote better relations among religious denominations and ameliorate interethnic tensions. The secretary general of religious affairs appoints six national directors to lead the offices of Christian affairs, Islamic affairs, pilgrimages, places of worship, economic affairs and the endowment, and general inspector.
The government coordinates with the Interreligious Council, which is composed of members from Anglican, Catholic, and Protestant churches, and the SRA.
By law the SRA must approve all religious groups. The group must provide a written constitution and application to the SRA along with the group’s address and a fee of GNF250,000 ($36). The SRA then sends the documents to the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization (MATD – the equivalent of an interior ministry) for final approval and signature. Once approved, the group becomes an officially recognized religion. Registration entitles religious groups to value-added tax (VAT) exemptions on incoming shipments and to select energy subsidies. Once registered, each religious group must present to the government a report on its affairs every six months. The process is not considered onerous, and no group has ever been rejected or shut down after receiving SRA and MATD approval.
Unregistered religious groups are not entitled to VAT exemptions and other benefits. By law the government can shut down unregistered groups and expel foreign group leaders. There is limited opportunity for legal appeal of these penalties.
Religious groups may not own radio and television stations, but the government permits religious broadcasting on privately owned commercial radio. The government allocates broadcast time during the week on state-owned national television for Islamic and Christian programming, including Sunday mass, Islamic religious instruction, and Friday prayers from the central mosque.
The compulsory primary school curriculum does not include religious studies. Islamic schools are prevalent throughout the country and are the traditional forum for religious education. Some Islamic schools are private, while others receive local government support. Islamic schools, particularly common in the Fouta Djalon region, teach the compulsory government curriculum along with additional Quranic studies. Christian schools, which accept students of all religious groups, exist in the nation’s capital and most other big cities. Christian schools are private and include prayers before school. They do not receive government support but teach the compulsory curriculum.
There are several madrassahs, usually associated with a mosque. Unlike the Islamic schools, they do not teach the national primary school curriculum, they teach in Arabic rather than French, and focus on Quranic studies. The government does not recognize madrassahs, which are not linked with the public school system and do not fulfill compulsory curriculum requirements. Funds from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other Gulf states support some madrassahs.
The imams and administrative staff of the principal mosque in Conakry are government employees.