Malawi Muslim clerics press regulator to withdraw fine on Radio Islam

Reports reaching Nyasa Times indicate that prominent sheikhs in Malawi early last week stormed offices of Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) demanding an immediate withdraw of a fine it imposed on the country’s only Islamic radio station, Radio Islam for unprofessional conduct.

Macra had recently slapped Radio Islam with a $625 (about K260, 000) fine for denigrating the Christian religion, in the program aired in January, 2013 which stated that Jesus Christ is not the son of God and that all people who follow him shall perish in hell.

According to Macra the radio breached Clause 2(a) of the Third Schedule to the Communications Act and Clause 10.1.3 of its Licences by denigrating other religion beliefs.

During the hearing with Macra officials, Radio Islam representatives admitted having breached both the Communications Act and the Licence terms and condition by airing the program and later signed that it will pay the fine.

Sheik Idruss: The
Sheik Idruss:  Says Chabulika and Nembo were part of delegation

But this did not go down well with some prominent Muslim leader who felt that Radio Islam representatives erred by admitting that they were wrong in airing the program arguing this is the true teachings of Islam.

Highly placed sources at Macra confided in Nyasa Times that Muslim officials comprising Sheikh Dinala Chabulika board member Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, Al hajj Yusuf Kanyamula and Al hajj Rashid Nembo former board chairperson for the Malawi National Sports Councils  stormed Macra offices and asked Macra boss Charles Nsaliwa to immediately withdraw the fine in writing, arguing that what Radio Islam did by stating that Jesus Christ is not the Son of God is in line with the teachings of Islam.

The sources said the sheiks argued in Islam who ever believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is automatically out of the religion therefore what Radio Islam did by admitting that it made a mistake in airing that program meant that the radio was supporting the belief that Christ is the Son of God.

The sheiks according to the sources also “accused Macra of double standards for not punishing Christian Radio stations which say that Christ is the Son of God; a statement which they said is offensive to Muslims who share the contrary view.”

“The Muslim clerks also asked why Macra do not punish the state broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Corporation which has been featuring an official from the Association of Secular Humanists George Thindwa who has been on the public broadcaster arguing that there is no God a statement which is an insult to both Christians and Muslims.”

According to the sources, Nsaliwa admitted to the demands to withdraw the fine and asked for more time to do it in writing.

“It seems that Macra officials were terrified with the approach by the Muslims clerks and to ease the tension which would ensue, our boss bowed down to the demand but the fact is that the withdraw can happen overnight because it needs the board to sit at look at the counter arguments of the sheiks and their relevance to the issue concerning Radio Islam.”

However, general secretary for the Muslim Association of Malawi Sheikh Salmin Omar Idruss told Nyasa Times that he could not be in a better position to comment on the issue, saying he was not part of delegation which met Nsaliwa.

He instead referred Nyasa Times to sheikh Chabulika or Rashid Nembo who he said were part of the delegation which met Nsaliwa on the matter, whose phones could not be reached.

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