The Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) and Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) have resolved their differences in the controversial billboard dispute saga following dialogue facilitated by Public Affairs Committee (PAC).
MAM has since said the message on the billboard will be revised to enhance peace and co-existence in the country.
The EAM, on its part, has also withdrawn some words and expressions used in a letter to Blantyre City Council (BCC) requesting the billboard’s removal, which MAM found offensive.
The billboard which attracted controversy read: “If you have read the Old Testament and New Testament, now read the last Testament, Quran”.
Briefing the media in Blantyre yesterday, Special Task Force on the billboard dispute chairperson, the Reverend Father Henry Saindi, said they will be consolidating a report to the PAC board on emerging issues and recommendations on the matter.
He said: “The final report will be submitted to PAC board of governance when the meeting of the board has been fixed. The PAC board will also undertake to brief the Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity on this.”
According to Saindi, a final adopted report on the billboard will be presented to President Lazarus Chakwera at a date to be determined.
He said during the mediation, it was established that both religions desire religious co-existence, peace and mutual respect for each other’s faith and values; hence, resolving their differences.
On his part, MAM Secretary General Alhaj.
Twaibu Lawe appreciated EAM’s decision to affirm their commitment to peaceful religious co-existence which led to the peaceful resolution.
“We welcome their actions by withdrawing some of the words in their letter, noting that freedom of religion is a fundamental right as enshrined in the Republican Constitution,” he said.
The words and expressions in EAM’s letter to BCC requesting the billboards removal, which apparently offended MAM, were “Malawi is predominantly Christian” and “Christians will take unspecified actions if the billboard is not removed”.
On his part, EAM secretary general the Reverend Francis Mkandawire, said: “We understand that our brothers [Muslims] have expressed concern with such words and expressions in our said letter. In the spirit of co-existence and peace, EAM hereby withdraws them.”
He urged EAM members to respect and tolerate other faiths just as they expect other faiths to do the same with them within the confines of the Constitution.
Following concerns that were raised after the billboard was put up, Minister of Civic Education and National Unity Timothy Mtambo wrote the quasi-religious grouping to initiate dialogue on the matter.
In his letter, the minister it was right that PAC initiates dialogue on the matter as it involves peace, religious rights and national unity.
A day after the billboard was put up, it was vandalised by unknown people.