Activist calls for religious tolerance after Mangochi pork trouble

Malawi human rights activist Billy Mayaya has called for renouncing violence against non-Muslim groups in the eastern lakeshore district of Mangochi which is predominantly for Moslems.

Mayaya told Nyasa Times that it’s worrisome to note about violence that erupted when a trader Paulo Msangwa slaughtered a pig and went to sell it at Maldeco Market in the district.

This provoked the Moslems who rioted and a Magistrate Court ruled on Monday that that Msangwa was wrong because he continued selling the pork after he was warned that it was forbidden to do so in the area.

The ruling attracted a barrage of criticism from many people and others described it as miscarriage of justice.

Mayaya: Torelance

There was no immediate comment from Minister of Justice Fahad Assani, a Moslem himself.

But Mayaya called on Muslims mother body to take a stand on the matter.

“We appeal to the Muslim Association of Malawi and other Islamic umbrella bodies to make united calls for tolerance and peace amongst all communities,” Mayaya told Nyasa Times.

“ Our differences and traditions must not divide us but rather enrich our diversity and respect for one another.,” he added.

The rights campaigner pointed out that “Malawi is a secular state that thrives on diversity. “

He said: “We therefore call upon the Government, faith leaders and communities to thwart any attempts to divide Malawians. We appeal for peace and understanding to prevail.

“Malawi cannot afford to be drawn into conflict. We have more to gain from understanding and recognising diversity rather than courting provocation.”

Law expert Justin Dzonzi, who is executive director of Justice Link, said there is no land in Malawi that is ruled by religious law

He warned that infamous Islamic groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and El Shabab in Somalia emerged in that fashion.

Dzonzi also criticised the Mangochi judgement saying itis unlawful and unconstitutional, arguing that it was wrong for the court to be in agreement with the accused persons that the businessperson was wrong to continue selling the pork after he was warned to stop.

“Business is guided by council by-laws and it is not an offence for anyone to sell pork anywhere in the country as long as they follow council by-laws,” he is quoted by The Nation newspaper.

“No one can be forced to follow the teachings of other religions. It is unfortunate and worrying to say Mangochi is an Islamic State,” Dzonzi said.

He also faulted the magistrate for failing to punish the accused persons, Bulugama Makunganya and others, after it was made clear that they confiscated and buried the pork belonging to the complainant.

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