BT City Council demolish Islamic structures

There was drama Friday afternoon when an enforcement team from the Blantyre City Council (BCC) uprooted well decorated celebration structures erected in major roundabouts by Muslims.

Moslems in the commercial city had put up the makeshift Islamic structures in all the major roundabouts like Clock Tower, Stadium (Chichiri) and Midima as part of celebrations to mark the birth of Prophet Muhammad. The day is called Al-Mawlid Al-Nnabawi.

However, despite following all the procedures as is required by BCC before the decorations, a senior official from the council was reportedly not happy with the structures and ordered his team to remove them.

Malawi Muslims on Ziyara parade

Friday afternoon Nyasa Times witnessed a team of about 14 people (most of whom are usually seen going round the city snatching assorted merchandises from illegal vendors) from the council pulling down one structure at Stadium roundabout before throwing it in a BCC three tonner vehicle reg number BP 9391.

Nyasa Times got suspicious with the aggressive manner in which the council workers removed the celebration frameworks and wanted to find out why from one of the event organisers, Limbe Moslem Jamaat.

“We are equally surprised with their action because our superiors had followed all the necessary procedures before erecting them,” an official from Limbe Moslem Jamaat told Nyasa Times on condition of anonymity saying he was not mandated to speak for the organisation.

“However, we are reliably informed that one senior official from BCC has ordered the removal for the reason best known to himself… unfortunately we are yet to make a follow up and find out why,” he added in a telephone interview.

However, Nyasa Times sources said the operation to remove the structures was ordered by the Director of Administrative Services (Alfred Chanza) without even consulting other directors who are directly responsible for such issues.

According to our source the responsible directors are that of Town Planning (Costly Chanza) and Leisure and Parks (Mitini Nkhoma). However, Nyasa Times failed to have their comments as their phones were not picked.

Our source alleged that this was not the first time the director of administrative services had ordered removal of Moslem structures in the city’s sites.

“He despises anything to do with Islam… he claims Islam in Malawi is associated with the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) which he says should not be given any space in the city.

“Imagine in a normal city arrangement, such operations are supposed to be carried out with police presence but as you saw there was no police officer because he just ordered it out of antagonism. What if BCC workers uprooting the structures are attacked by the owners?” queried the finance person source, adding that the director of administrative services had accumulated too much powers at the council more than the Chief Executive (Ted Nandolo) who has been reduced to a rubberstamp.

The birthday of Prophet Muhammad, Al-Mawlid Al-Nnabawi, one of their religious occasions that get greatest attention, is celebrated on the 12th day of Rabi-al-Awwal (Islamic calendar) by mainly the Sunni Muslims.

However, this year it is not clear when it will actually be celebrate since the date varies every year on the Western calendar. The Islamic calendar is based on lunar movements (appearing of the moon) and the Western calendar is based on solar calendar.

The occasion of Al-Mawlid Al-Nabawi is that of joy and also compassion among Muslims as they celebrate through various activities such as preparing of traditional meals, holding religious seminars, some take it as an opportunity to circumcise their young boys while rich families, mostly Asians, use the event to give out food to the unprivileged as well as decorating mosques.

Prophet Muhammad is considered to be the last Prophet of God and the last messenger of God by the Muslims who was born on 12 Rabiul Awwal, the third month of Muslim calendar and his first birthday was celebrated during the 13th century which was reportedly followed by a month long celebration.

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