Muslim leaders continued to state that because of 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 between October 2013 and January 2014, 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 seven new religious groups through the middle of October, bringing the total to approximately 283 officially registered groups. Religious groups reported the government did not always enforce registration requirements and in general did not deny requests for registration.
Decisions by local authorities continued to affect the ability of some religious groups to practice their faith, according to religious leaders. Religious leaders also stated that inadequate government enforcement of labor laws resulted in some employers requiring their employees to work during religious services. A Catholic priest in Antananarivo who managed a social services center that caters to factory workers stated some employers failed to respect the labor code provisions requiring a 24-hour break weekly, which affects factory workers’ ability to attend worship services.
The government failed to restore or reimburse the value of FJKM-owned Radio Fahazavana’s equipment, which had been seized by the former government on the stated ground that the station was associated with deposed President Marc Ravalomanana.
Leadership of the Muslim Malagasy Association, which states it represents all Muslims in Madagascar, reported that some Muslims continued to report difficulty obtaining official documents such as national identity cards and passports because of their Arabic-sounding names. Some Muslims reported religious discrimination when applying for civil service positions. For example, to apply to civil service positions, applicants must provide criminal records, which some Muslims found difficult to obtain from the government.
On September 19, local newspapers reported that the MOI deported 10 foreign imams working in the southeast. According to press reports, they were Pakistani nationals operating a mosque in Vohipeno and a Quranic school in Manakara. The MOI confirmed the deportation, noting that the imams had entered Malagasy territory on a 15-day tourist visa which was extended to a three-month visa at the regional police station. They noted that missionary work or other work-related activities were not permitted on a tourist visa. In November Prime Minister Olivier Mahafaly reaffirmed that the imams were deported because of their illegal immigration status. One of the newspapers added that the MOI started an investigation of the imams when the sacrifice of 200 zebus in Manakara and Vohipeno for the Eid al-Adha celebration on September 11-12 aroused local concerns. While zebu sacrifice is common among animists, Muslims, and occasionally at royal funerals, a single sponsor financing 200 zebus is extremely uncommon which led many in the local community to suspect foreign entities funded the sacrifice.
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.
For the fourth year, the government decreed that Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr would be paid holidays for Muslims. Leaders of the Muslim community reported they continued to lobby without success for these holidays to be paid for everyone, rather than just for Muslims, on an equal basis with national holidays based on the Christian faith.