Malawi: Muslim Billboard Vandalized in Malawi As Eid-Al-Adha Approaches

Unknown people believed to Christians have vandalized a Muslim billboard with a message urging people to read what it calls the last Testament, the Holy Quran having read the Old and New Testaments.

The vandalism came barely hours after the Evangelical Association of Malawi reacted angrily to the mounting of the billboard describing it as provocative.

It also comes when Muslims prepare to celebrate the festival of Eid-al-Adha this Friday.

Police said they were investigating the matter.

The mounting of the billboard divided opinion in social media platforms, with some describing it as religious intolerance while others said the Muslims provoked the situation by referring to the Bible.

In the statement, the Evangelical Association of Malawi chairperson Reverend Zacc Kawalala has told the Blantyre city council to pull down the billboard within seven days.

"We want to clearly state here that the Old Testament and the New Testament are books in the Christian Bible.

"Therefore reference told the Old Testament and New Testament in such a manner, in a country that is predominantly Christian, even without specifically mentioning the Bible, tantamount to a comparison between the Bible and the Quran.

"Such an action is unacceptable and a recipe for religious conflict in the country," says the statement.

Kawalala says Chrisitians in the city will decide their next course of action if the billboard is not pulled down within the seven days.

There was no immediate comment from council officials and the Muslim Association of Malawi on the matter but Islamic Information Bureau's Sheikh Ahmed Chiyenda said it is unfortunate that the message on the billboard has been concluded wrongly.

"I must say we are disappointed with the way the Council has acted to the plea by Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) through Dr Zac Kawalala because we trust our leaders to help in such matters, but they just got it from one side and acted. We have seen Billboards in town carrying explicit messages but no one complains, it's only a problem because we have ours carrying the message of our Quran?" questioned Chiyenda.

Social-political commentator Stanly Onjezani Kenani wrote on his Facebook page that to him, the Billboard was 'entirely' harmless.

"To me this billboard was entirely harmless. I have read the Holy Quran, have memorised the surah al-fatihah, surah al-ikhlas and others. I found no harm at all reading the book. In any case, this billboard was just an advert. No one was being forced to actually read the Quran.

"Going as far as forcing the billboard's removal is an overreaction, and smacks of religious intolerance. I have many Muslim friends who studied Bible Knowledge with us, back in secondary school days. This did not convert them to Christianity, just in the same way as my reading the Holy Quran and memorising some surahs did not convert me to Islam," he said.

President Lazarus Chakwera is a devout Christian who was once a pastor at Assemblies of God and lectured in Theology at college.

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