Constitutional reforms approved in a referendum on 30 July have created concerns in the African island nation of Comoros. Opposition leaders called on people to boycott the referendum, believing that it was not legitimate.
Along with extending the power and term of the president, one area of particular concern to religious minorities in the country is the removal of a clause separating religion and state. Previously, the country was considered an Islamic state, but the constitutional change now officially declares it as such with the following declaration: “The state draws from this religion the principles and rules of Sunnite observance.”
Local sources are concerned over how this development is going to affect Christians and other religious minorities. During his campaign, President Azali Assoumani promised that, if approved, his government would be imposing tougher measures on any citizens who are not Sunni Muslim. More than 95 percent of the population are Sunni, with about two percent Christian.
Proselytisation of any kind, other than Islam, is illegal. Foreigners have generally been free to practise their religion as long as they do not share it with Comorians. These constitutional changes could further restrict religious freedoms.
Sources: Deutsche Welle, World Watch Monitor