The Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) has unreservedly condemned a group of Muslims that claimed that Mangochi is an Islamic State.
In the same vein, a lawyer has faulted the judgement by a magistrate court in Mangochi that favoured some Muslims who were against the sale of pork in the district, describing the ruling as unlawful and unconstitutional.
The lawyer, Justin Dzonzi, who is executive director of Justice Link, said a claim that Mangochi is an Islamic State is both illegal and regrettable, arguing that 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.
On its part, government says it would not be right to condemn the Muslim community at large for actions undertaken by a small group of overzealous members of the faith who have gone overboard.
Minister of Information and Civic Education Brown Mpinganjira, who is the official government spokesperson, said yesterday the Holy Qur’an teaches about peace and the Holy Bible teaches about love and forgiveness, adding if this is followed, Malawians should be able to coexist.
The group, which protested the sale of pork and alcoholic beverages in the district, hoisted placards and banners claiming that the district is an Islamic State amid a court case where a businessperson sued two men for confiscating and burying the pig carcass he was selling at Maldeco Market in the district.
However, the businessperson, Paulo Msangwa, who was claiming K85 000 (about $212) compensation, lost the case on Monday.
But MAM chairperson Sheikh Mohammed Idrissa said in an interview on Tuesday that the group, which hoisted the placard, is misguided and their views did not represent those of the Muslim community.
“Malawi is one State, we cannot create two States. This is a secular nation and we must tolerate each other,” Idrissa said before referring The Nation to Sheikh Dinala Chabulika for a comprehensive response.
In an interview, Chabulika congratulated first grade magistrate Jack Njikho for delivering what he called a “fair judgement”.
Chabulika said he read the judgement and it stated that pork must be sold in designated places.
He said this was a good statement from the magistrate because people can mistake pork for beef.
Chabulika said the magistrate rightly condemned Muslims who took the law into their own hands by confiscating and burying the pork, advising that next time Muslims must report to authorities if they see something they feel is against them.
“But the statement that Mangochi is an Islamic State is both regrettable and uncalled for. Malawi is one country, governed by one Constitution which we must all follow,” Chabulika said.
Dzonzi, however, said the judgement is 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.
“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.