Reacting to Muslim primary school students’ desecration of Bibles in Malawi earlier this month, a local priest said that their vehement reaction is novel and a sign that militancy is a possible danger.
Representatives of the Gideons Bible organization had offered a Catholic primary school in a predominant Muslim area free copies of the New Testament, the local parish priest Fr. Medrick M. Chimbwanya told the Germany-based Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Although the school had made it clear that no Bibles were to be given to the Muslim pupils and that no one was obliged to take a copy, some Muslim youths created an uproar.
They tore up the Bibles, threw them at their teachers and then threw torn pages on the streets. Some of the students denounced the Bible distribution to their religious leaders as an “insult to Islam” and claimed that they had been forced to accept a Bible.
In the days after the incident, Catholics feared violent attacks from Muslim groups, Fr. Chimbwayna reported.
“The behavior of the youths has been an indicator of a danger in our midst. Normally, the primary school youth in Malawi would not have the courage of tearing up any book in the presence of their teacher, let alone a Holy Book,” he said. “My conclusion is that there must be some awful training given to these youths which if left unchecked, means that we may have dangerous militants in Malawi in the near future.”
According to 2007 estimates, approximately 80% of the population is Christian, with the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian making up the largest Christian groups. There are also smaller numbers of Anglicans, Baptists, evangelicals and Seventh-day Adventists. Around 13% of the population is Muslim, with most of the Muslim population being Sunni, of either the Qadriya or Sukkutu groups. Other religious groups within the country include Jews, Rastafarians, Hindus and Baha’is. Atheists make up around 4% of the population, although this number includes people who practice traditional African religions.
Islam in Malawi.