The 2016 constitution continues to provide for freedom of religious belief and worship to all, consistent with law and order, and prohibits religious discrimination in employment. It emphasizes that religious tolerance is fundamental to the nation’s unity, national reconciliation, and social cohesion. It forbids speech that encourages religious hatred. The government denied registration to some religious groups that it stated submitted forged documents as part of their application. As in previous years, the government organized and funded Hajj pilgrimages for Muslims and pilgrimages to France and Israel for Christians. The government continued to include Muslim and Catholic leaders in political reconciliation efforts. The central leadership body of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) included positions for Muslim and Christian religious leaders.
On March 13, a group of six attackers killed 22 people and injured 33 others in Grand Bassam. The terrorists allegedly shouted “Allahu Akbar.” Several religious leaders condemned the attack and encouraged peaceful relations among all religious groups. The president and first lady attended an interfaith ceremony on the Day of Remembrance for those killed during the terrorist attack at which both a priest and an imam said prayers for the victims and an indigenous priest made an offering.
U.S. embassy representatives discussed the importance of religious tolerance with political figures in the government and the opposition. The U.S. Ambassador and embassy representatives met with religious leaders and groups throughout the year to discuss the role they could play in maintaining a climate of tolerance and religious freedom. The embassy organized an hour-long radio interview, which was broadcast nationwide, with a Muslim American who addressed values of religious tolerance and diversity. In April the embassy hosted a seminar on countering violent extremism that brought together religious leaders, security and government officials, civil society leaders, academics, and media. One of the panels emphasized the peaceful coexistence of religions in the country.