St. Peter Diocese
Mauritania : Islamic, Not Islamist
KOENIGSTEIN, Germany , MARCH 28, 2006 ( Zenit.org ).-
An Islamic republic is very different from an Islamistic republic, says a Catholic
bishop of Mauritania who holds up the country as an example of the former.
"When I applied for a visa in order to work there, the ambassador told me:
' Mauritania is an Islamic republic, not an Islamistic republic. So, a Catholic
bishop is welcome,'" said German-born Bishop Martin Happe, of Nouakchott
, in a recent visit to the headquarters of the charity Aid to the Church in Need.
"Indeed, there are no problems with the Church's social commitment, such
as education and health care," he added.
According to the bishop, in "a country like Mauritania , where Islam is
virtually the only thing that the various ethnic groups have in common, Catholics
and Muslims must accept and respect their differences."
Mauritania 's 3 million people include only 4,500 Catholics, mostly foreign
residents, said Bishop Happe.
Referring to the pressure exerted by Muslim extremists, noticeable in the country,
the bishop said he hoped "that Mauritania will never turn into an Islamistic
The Diocese of Nouakchott was established in 1965, five years after the country
gained independence from France .