The constitution stipulates the state is secular, prohibits religious harassment, and provides for freedom of religion and worship. During the year, the government implemented a series of measures in response to repeated attacks from Boko Haram. Some of the measures restricted religious expression and customs, such as the wearing of religious clothing and access to religious education. A Muslim woman reported she and her relative were physically abused by a gendarme officer for wearing the full-face veil. After two suicide bombers dressed in burqas killed 13 people, several regional governors banned the garment. Authorities carried out a census of Quranic schools in the Far North Region, with media reporting the purpose was to find and close schools that were teaching extremist ideologies. Although the government did not close any school explicitly for this reason, it did advise Quranic schools to refrain from enrolling children of unknown parentage or unknown families, due to Boko Haram’s use of children as suicide bombers. Some Muslims said they were prohibited by local authorities from preaching in public places or distributing religious literature, as other denominations do.
A dispute between rivals to lead a Christian church turned violent and the government arrested the men and closed the church, at least temporarily. Muslims reported being subjected to stigmatization and discrimination, and some said they were wrongly perceived as supporting Boko Haram. Some Muslim leaders said a government campaign reduced the level of stigmatization and discrimination. Many prominent religious leaders, including the imam of the Douala Central Mosque, the imam of the Yaounde Central Mosque, and the Catholic Archbishop of Yaounde spoke out against Boko Haram, its attacks against security forces and civilians, its use of children to conduct attacks, and its efforts to elicit support from the local Muslim population.
The U.S. embassy discussed religious freedom issues with government officials, advocating for greater transparency and efficiency in the registration process for religious groups. Embassy officers met with leading figures from the principal religious groups to discuss challenges to religious freedom, such as the rise of religious stigmatization and intolerance. Embassy officers conducted outreach among religious groups, promoting religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue by organizing one-on-one meetings and hosting dinners with religious leaders from various denominations. The embassy also hosted a roundtable discussion on interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance and sponsored a workshop on countering religious extremism.