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Madagascar

Madagascar, Islamists Exploit Poverty To Gain Converts In Christian Land

Islamism is gaining ground on the island historically dominated by Christianity and traditional religions by offering free Koranic education in exchange for conversion.

A mosque in Porte Bergé, Madagascar
A mosque in Porte Bergé, Madagascar
Renaud Girard

VOHIPENO — At first sight, Vohipeno is a poor, but charming rural town covered with bougainvilleas and enveloped in the spicy fragrance of cloves, the main product of this southeastern stretch of Madagascar's coast. Without electricity and shaded by palm trees or traveler's trees, the houses are all made of wood, their rough facades faded by the weather.

Heading down toward the shoreline, we come across the white minaret of a worn mosque, attached to a brand new building of grey concrete. A furtive silhouette in a black abaya sees us, and disappears inside. Built adjacent to the Vatomasina (Sacred Stone) mosque, and originally paid for in 1990 by Muammar Gaddafi's Libya, is the new Islamic School of Success. It towers over a dusty soccer pitch surrounded by wobbly shops, where laughing young boys in rags chase behind a half-deflated ball amid strewn garbage.

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Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Sveiki!*

Welcome to Thursday, where more Ukrainian soldiers surrender in Mariupol, Sri Lanka defaults on its debt,and George W. Bush offers an epic geopolitical gaffe. Meanwhile, Lili Bai in Chinese-language digital media The Initium looks at what’s driving the current “expat exodus” at play in Shanghai.

[*Latvian]

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