September 23, 2002

Christians, Muslims Tensions Increase

The increase of religious tension between Christians and Muslims since Malawi attained multiparty rule in 1994 is largely a result of the two religions fighting for superiority and influence over the country, a survey by Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has revealed.

The survey on religious as well as political intolerance carried out mid this year revealed that the religious intolerance prevailing in the country is largely because of a need to have superiority and because of the gulf that exists between differing religious ideologies. Respondents to the survey warned that the religious intolerance could result in inter-religious conflicts, if left unchecked. MHRC said it carried out the survey after receiving numerous concerns from the public on the matter. Out of the 9.9 million Malawians, 7,933,773 are Christians representing 80% of the population while 1,272,429 are Muslims being 13%.

The religious conflict in Malawi has been heightened by recent publications from both the Christian and Muslim communities. Catholics of St. Pius in Blantyre recently issued a statement in which, among other issues they accused Islam of enjoying undue influence over Christianity in Malawi, since 1994. In their meeting, the Catholics resolved that educational facilities owned by the Catholics must only be manned and utilised by Catholics themselves. Another recent letter written by Muslims from Mzuzu threatens a Jihad on Christians in retaliation for the burning down of mosques in protest, allegedly by Christians soon after the 1999 presidential and parliamentary elections. The letter says that Muslims have the training now to burn churches and kill Christians in Malawi. (THE CHRONICLE NEWSPAPER)

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