The Muslims Association of Malawi (MAM) and government have condemned abuse of hijab wearing Muslim women at political parties.
Speaking at Mangochi Boma on Friday, during Eid-ul-Adha celebrations, MAM and government jointly condemned the use of Islamic women at political party rallies, saying involvement of women wearing hijab at political rallies is not in tandem with the religion.
MAM secretary general Alhaj Twaibu Lawe condemned presence of Islamic women wearing hijab at political parties. While he said the women were free to join any political party, they should not put on their religious attire at political rallies.
“There should be a difference between politics and religion. It is impossible for all Muslims in the country to be forced to follow one party, because everyone has freedom to join a party of his or her choice, so do not force Muslims to join your party,” said Lawe.
He added: “We do not want to see what we saw in early 2000 in Karonga, where our Mosques were burnt because of political interference. Islam does not stop anybody from joining politics, but that should be one’s choice.”
While agreeing with Lawe, presidential adviser on religious affairs, apostle Timothy Khoviwa, wondered why Muslim women were doing that when Christian women do not wear their religious gear at political rallies.
“We have never seen Christian women in the women’s guild attire attending political rallies, why Islamic women? This should be condemned in the strongest terms. Women should not be used to advance political mileage. Do not mix politics with religion,” said Khoviwa.
He said Malawi is championing religious tolerance so that people of all religions should be working together for the betterment of the country.
However, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson, Nicholas Dausi, said it is incumbent upon an individual’s conscience to wear what she/he wants when going to political party.
“I do not think there is any political party that forces Muslim women to put on their religious attire when going to political meetings in the country. Secondly, people should know that there is freedom of association and everybody has the right to choose which party to belong to,” said Dausi.
United Democratic Front (UDF) publicity secretary Ken Ndanga said, as a party, they believe in freedom of worship, and they cannot interfere with religious matters, arguing that the party has membership of all faith groups.
“We cannot force any faith or religion to go against its moral values, as such, we cannot comment much on faith groups’ performance during political rallies,” he said.
During the celebrations, MAM chairperson Sheikh Muhammad Idrissah donated K1 million to the organising committee to settle some of the bills incurred during preparations of the event.