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Islam in Papua New Guinea

Islam in Papua New Guinea



Islam in Papua New Guinea is a minority religion; the US department of state estimates that there are about 2000 Muslims in the country.


The people of what is today Papua New Guinea and West Papua traded with China and the Malay empire, the latter of which was Muslim, beginning in the 16th century.In 1988, Muslims in Papua New Guinea set up the first Islamic center, with the help of a Malaysia-based Islamic organization and the Saudi Ministry of Islamic affairs. In 1996, three more Islamic centers were established, with the help of the Muslim World League. There are now seven Islamic centers in the nation. The first mosque was built in Port Moresby, with a capacity to hold up to 1,500 worshipers.

Islam in present day Papua New Guinea

Tension and Islamophobia

Today, there are around 2000 Muslims in the country. There has been incidents of discrimination and Islamophobia against recently arrived Muslim immigrants. For example, the Home Affairs Minister of PNG, Andrew Kumbako, feels that “Islam is a dangerous and a very serious threat to the peace and unity of [PNG]” and that “the advent of and propagation of the Islamic religion will be a future time-bomb for PNG”, thus “PNG must remain a Christian country for a better future.” He said that the government is working on changing the law to control the emergence of non-Christian religions.

According to the U.S. State Department’s annual report on religious freedom, Muslims are subject to sporadic minor attacks such as small fires at or in the only mosque in the country. Also, when the Muslim community applied to the Land Board for permission to acquire property on which to build a mosque, some churches objected, claiming that the nation has a historical Christian character. After the mosque was built, the press in the country continued the public debate on whether Islam was a threat to the country.

Muslims growing rapidly

New missionary movements are beginning to proliferate, most significantly Islam, the probable reason for the harsh reactions. There are pockets of Muslims around Port Moresby, in Baimuru, Daru, Marchall Lagoon, the Musa Valley and in the islands of New Britain and New Ireland. It is in the highlands that Islam has seen the most growth.

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