According to international reports, following an earlier ban, on October 15, the government arrested 62 women for wearing burqas. The women were fined 100,000 CFA ($166) and released, although authorities said they would be charged with complicity if arrested again.
After the June 15 attack in N’Djamena by a Boko Haram bomber dressed in a burqa, Prime Minister Kalzeube Payimi Deubet met religious leaders to inform them of measures the government took in response, in particular, banning the burqa. The prime minister informed religious leaders that “wearing a burqa is strictly forbidden in the entire national territory,” and he asked religious leaders to educate their followers on the measures taken by the government. According to local media, religious leaders from the Muslim community, Catholic Church, and evangelical churches made statements supporting the prime minister and said they would raise awareness and explain the importance of the burqa ban.
On July 13, Minister of Territorial Administration and Public Safety Abderahim Bireme Hamid stated to religious leaders and the United Nations agencies that the banning of the burqa was among a series of measures being taken in the fight against terrorism. Abderahim urged religious leaders to “educate their followers” regarding measures banning the wearing of face-covering clothing. The minister emphasized the need for collaboration with security forces in the fight against Boko Haram and said, “the followers of this sect are not only foreigners, but also some of our citizens, blindly enlisted for sadistic purposes.” According to local reports, religious leaders agreed with the government that wearing the burqa was a source of insecurity, because this dress created camouflage.
During a July 18 meeting in Amdjarass, Ennedi-East Region, President Idriss Deby Itno told religious, administrative, and traditional authorities, including 10 members of the local Higher Council of Islamic Affairs led by Sheikh Oumar Khamis, that wearing the burqa was prohibited throughout the country. He urged the religious leaders to raise awareness of this decision and the government’s reasons for it. The president emphasized in particular what he said was the need for peaceful coexistence of all citizens. “You have to educate, guide, direct your faithful in the sense of coexistence. Christians and Muslims should live in harmony,” the president said.
On March 3, the minister for territorial administration and public security issued a decree dissolving the Ansar al Sunna Almouhamaddya association, which reportedly promoted Wahhabism, citing it as a risk to public security.
President Deby Itno encouraged religious tolerance in public statements and urged religious leaders to promote peaceful relations among religious groups. During the celebration of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, he urged each religious group to advocate for harmony among all citizens. The president also commended what he said were amicable relations and understanding prevailing among leaders of the various religious denominations. He encouraged religious groups to strengthen their ties, which he said constituted the bedrock of national unity.
On December 12, President Deby Itno presided over the sixth annual National Day of Peace, Peaceful Cohabitation, and National Concord of the Regional Forum on Interfaith Dialogue and delivered remarks highlighting the peaceful coexistence among religious communities which he said existed in the country. He promised continued government support to the religious community for peace-building efforts.
The government-created High Council for Islamic Affairs (HCIA) oversaw Islamic religious activities, including some Arabic-language schools and institutions of higher learning, and represented the country at international Islamic forums. The grand imam, who was also the President of the HCIA, oversaw each region’s grand imam and had the authority to restrict Muslim groups from proselytizing, regulate the content of mosque sermons, and control activities of Islamic charities.
The government continued funding the construction of the country’s first Catholic basilica, as well as restoration of the Catholic Notre Dame Cathedral in N’Djamena.