BISSAU - Muslims in Guinea-Bissau are pleading for help to teach growing numbers of people embracing Islam in the west African country about their religion.
"Poverty and ignorance is high among the new members of Islam in Guinea-Bissau, Ahmad Abdullah, Deputy Manager of the African Muslim Committee, told the Anadolu Agency on Thursday, January 17.
We need organizations that could teach Islam to such individuals and teach how to read the Holy Qur'an and Arabic to their children.
Nearly 3,000 are reported to have reverted to Islam in Guinea-Bissau last year.
Among those who embraced Islam were former president Kumba Yala and his adviser Edmond Ivora.
But Muslims complain that insufficient funds are hindering efforts to teach the new reverts about their faith and the Noble Qur'an.
Lack of enough funds is also stumbling efforts of Muslim groups to spread the true teachings of Islam among residents.
"Missionary establishments allocate great funds for scholarships to students, and to the construction of educational organizations and hospitals, Abdullah said.
They allocate sources for projects in the fields of education, health and social life.
Muslims make up nearly 50 percent of the 1.4 million population in Guinea-Bissau.
Between 5 to 13 percent is Christian, while the remainder of the population follows traditional indigenous or animist religious practices.
Islam is practiced most widely by the Fula and Mandinka ethnic groups, and Muslims generally live in the north and northeast.
A former Portuguese colony, Guinea-Bissau gained independence in 1974.Since then, the country has been ravaged by military coups and political unrest.