Anti-Christian, Anti-Western violence: Churches attacked in Malawi.
31 May 2003
On Sunday 29 June army units were deployed across Malawi following violence on Friday and Saturday which saw extensive damage to property and three people injured. Muslims were protesting that the government had allowed the US to secretly extradite five suspected associates of al-Qaeda.
In recent years, as the growing Muslim population of at least 13 % has become more vocal, tension has increased, but this is the first time that such religiously motivated violence has hit Malawi in any significant way. Said local police commander Patrick Hora "We were taken by surprise and that is why the situation got out of hand, but we are now in control." The disturbance was centred on Mangochi which is a predominantly Muslim district 180 km north-east of the commercial capital Blantyre. A crowd of about 200 Muslims went on the rampage, breaking windows and doors in several churches. Justin Opuku, Save the Children USA Malawi Director, said that the charity had been targeted because of its American connections.
Malawi's Muslim President Bakili Muluzi said over the weekend that he would not tolerate religious violence in Malawi. However some Muslims in Mangochi remained defiant, claiming that the President had failed them.