Malawians have come to the defence of a Muslim billboard which encouraged people to read the Quran.
The billboard erected at Limbe in Blantyre by the Muslim Information Bureau has already been vandalized by yet to be identified individuals.
“If you have read the Old Testament and the New Testament, now read the old testament – the Quran ultimate miracle,” read the billboard.
It also informed people to visit the Muslim Information Bureau offices and website for more information.
On July 26, the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) wrote the Blantyre City Council demanding the removal of the billboard. EAM described the billboard as offensive.
“We want to state here that the New Testament and the Old Testament are books in the Christian bible. Therefore, reference to the Old Testament and the New Testament in such a manner, in a country that is predominantly Christian, even without 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 Malawi,” the EAM said.
However, Malawians have defended the billboard saying they do not consider it provocative.
“That’s ridiculous. The billboard stated a basic belief of the faith. How is that provocative? The widely proclaimed Christian belief that all other religions are false can also be deemed provocative. Let’s all calm down & tolerate other views and move away from extremism,” tweeted @GamaBee.
Friends of HRDC Malawi @HRDC_Mw Tweeted: “#Malawi is a republic by a secular constitution guaranteeing the rights of all to religion, to imparting opinions, & to agnosticism. The notion of a Christian majority is neither here nor there! Majorities are ephemeral: rights are secured by an enduring secular constitution.”
Chancellor College lecturer Jimmy Kainja noted that it is not only Christians who use the New and Old Testaments of the Bible.
“By the way, where is this idea that the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are for Christians only coming from?” he tweeted.
Writer and Social Commentator Onjezani Kenani said the billboard was entirely harmless.
He wrote: “I have read the Holy Quran, have memorized 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.”