The constitution defines the state as secular, prohibits religious discrimination, and provides for freedom of conscience and religion. It prohibits political parties from preaching religious violence or hate. In March police identified the Bujumbura hiding place of a woman who reported experiencing visitations from the Virgin Mary; they briefly detained several of her followers on charges of worshiping in a banned location, but the woman fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo. During the political, economic, security, and humanitarian crisis related to the country’s electoral cycle, the Catholic Church reported several Catholic priests received death threats or were detained for their work supporting people perceived as opposed to the government and for the Church’s vocal opposition to the incumbent president’s decision to run for a third term.
In June the Catholic Archbishop of Bujumbura, Evariste Ngoyagoye, escaped an apparent assassination attempt during a celebration in which he was expected to speak out against the president running for a third term. Religious groups reported peaceful co-existence with each other, and most Burundians reportedly respected their neighbors’ rights to freedom of conscience.
The U.S. embassy continued to encourage the government to support broad-based religious tolerance. Embassy efforts on religious freedom with societal leaders included hosting an iftar and encouraging interfaith discussion of the collaborative role religious groups could play in disseminating a message of peace and tolerance to the population.