A disagreement has ensued between Catholics and Muslims around Mosiya Village in the eastern lakeshore district of Machinga, as the latter has demanded that the former vacate their territory within 21 days.
Nyasa Times has learnt that the misunderstanding is as a result of the Catholic church’s barring the wearing of hijabs in their primary schools.
Yusuf Bwanali, 32, said it was “irritating” that their children, especially girls, were not being accorded a chance to respect what the holy teachings of Islam prescribe for them.
“And yet this is a Muslim territory. Islam is like a culture here. If they [Catholic church] don’t want to respect that then they should leave our community,” said Bwanali.
The Muslim community has since asked the local Mpiri Catholic Parish to cease their operations, according to a letter Nyasa Times has seen.
In their letter addressed to the parish priest, and copied to various stakeholders including including government, the community decribed the restriction on hijabs in Christian schools—including Catholic—as “discriminatory and a disgrace” to them considering that they are a mainly Muslim community.
“We will use whatever means to force the Church to move its Parish in the area, especially if it fails to bow down to our demand,” reads the letter in part.
Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) secretary general, Henry Saindi, while confirming the development, asked members of Catholic church in Machinga to remain calm.
He said the Church in Malawi had since referred the matter to the multi-faith religious body the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) while Ministry of Education spokesperson, Chikondi Chimala, said his ministry was waiting for PAC to come up with a resolution on the matter.
Issues of dressing and make up have been an issue in Malawi schools for sometime. Not long ago, members of the Rastafarian community also wanted their wards to keep their dreadlocks in public primary and secondary schools.
The issue has not been resolved up-to-date.
According to a National Statistics Office (NSO) 2018 census, there are two-majority-Muslim districts, Mangochi (72.6 percent) and Machinga (66.9 percent) which account for more than half of all Muslims in Malawi.
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