Muslim leaders stated that due to their particular settlement history and mixed marriages over time, Muslims remained negatively affected by the country’s nationality code, which restricts children born of Malagasy mothers and foreign national fathers from obtaining citizenship. While there were no official figures on statelessness, a study by the NGO Focus Development and the UNHCR, which sampled residents in largely Muslim communities, estimated that approximately 6 percent of individuals in the communities surveyed were stateless. Of this number, more than 85 percent were born in the country.
The MOI registered 20 new religious groups through the middle of October, bringing the total to approximately 270 officially registered groups. During the year, the MOI approved all requests received and, in some cases, allowed associations to start operating before officially approving their request. Religious groups reported the government did not always enforce the registration requirement and in general did not deny requests for registration.
Contrary to previous years, there were no reports the government denied any religious groups permits for public demonstrations, including by the FJKM, which had reported such denials in the past.
Decisions by local authorities continued to affect the ability of some religious groups to practice their faith. In one town, for example, the chief of district maintained a decree from 2014 that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were market days, making it financially prohibitive for both Christian and Muslim vendors to attend their respective religious services. Religious leaders also stated that inadequate government enforcement of labor laws resulted in some employers requiring their employees to work during religious services.
Radio Fahazavana, sponsored by FJKM, received authorization to resume broadcasting from the Ministry of Communication in April. The station was shut down by the former government because it was associated with deposed President Marc Ravalomanana, and had remained off the air. The authorization by the ministry required the station to employ a pastor in a supervisory role to ensure its broadcasts were limited to religious topics. Although the managers of the station stated this limitation was a form of government interference, they accepted this requirement. The station resumed broadcasting by the end of September, but the managers said it suffered from technical difficulties because most of their equipment was seized or damaged by the former government.
Some members of the Muslim community noted a general improvement in their ability to worship. Muslim leaders attributed the improvements in part to increased representation in government (including two ministers, six members of the national assembly, and at least one ministerial chief of staff) following the 2013 democratic elections. The Muslim community built several new mosques and, contrary to previous years, community leaders reported local authorities demonstrated greater willingness to issue official documents to people with Arabic-sounding names. According to several civil society groups, however, obtaining official documentation occasionally remained a problem for Muslims. Muslim community members in Mahajanga, on the northwest coast, reported that their Arabic-sounding names continued to lead to greater scrutiny at airports while travelling.
Leaders of the Muslim community and other religious groups engaged in national political reconciliation talks sponsored by the FJKM in May.
State-run Malagasy National Television continued to provide free broadcasting to the Seventh-day Adventist Church and to Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Presbyterians on weekends, along with the Muslim community once a week. During Ramadan, the Muslim community was able to purchase additional airtime.
The government decreed that Eid al-Adha would be a paid holiday for Muslims. This declaration sparked responses from non-Muslims, who argued that the holiday should be a paid holiday for everyone, as were national holidays based on the Catholic faith.