Hundreds of Ghanaian Muslims who entered Brazil as tourists for the World Cup have asked for asylum on religious grounds, police have said.

Noerci da Silva Melo, a federal police officer in the southern city of Caxias do Sul, said on Friday that 200 Ghanaians had asked for asylum after entering Brazil legally to watch their team play in Natal, Fortaleza and Brasilia.

Melo said the Ghanaians were Muslims who were "fleeing the violent conflicts between different Muslim groups".

The justice ministry would decide whether to grant their requests, he added.

Vanessa Perini Moojen, of the Roman Catholic Church's Migrant Support Centre, said the Ghanaians "faced life-threatening situations back home" and "feel they can find work and better living conditions in Brazil".

The centre provided temporary shelter for the Ghanaians at the city's seminary and helped them prepare their asylum requests.

Claim rejected

Ghana rejected the fans claims with Deputy Information Minister Felix Kwakye Ofosu saying he was surprised that they had raised the issue of religious conflict as the reason they wanted asylum.

"It is one of the most peaceful and stable countries in the world. There is no religious conflict of any nature in Ghana,"
he told Reuters news agency.

"The Brazilian embassy in Ghana issued 90-day visas to thousands of Ghanaians. If they fail to comply with the terms of those visas we expect that the Brazilian authorities would enforce their laws," he said.

Ghana finished last in its group, losing to the US and Portugal, and drawing with Germany.

Source: Agencies