The United Nations (UN) has condemned the acts of violence that took place in Balaka earlier this week. Violence broke out between Christians of the Anglican Church and Muslims on 4th November after two Muslim pupils from M’manga Primary were chased from school for wearing an Islamic religion regalia, hijab.
Speaking in a statement released by the United Nations Resident Coordinator Maria Jose Torres condemn all forms of violence and called for religious tolerance in the country.
Torres described the wrangles as unacceptable saying the rights to freedom of expression and religion are fundamental rights that ensure human dignity and a functional democracy.
She said: “Preventing access to services such as education because students choose to wear an expression of their religion goes against these important human rights and international standards on freedom of education.”
She cited Section 36 (3)(c) (III) of the Education Act (2013) which she said stipulates that: “the school or college shall not impose restrictions of whatever nature with respect to the admission of students, recruitment and appointment of staff.”
She went further by saying such actions discourage girls from attending school, denying them the right to learn and actively participate in society, at a time when Malawi is focusing on ending child marriage and keeping girls in school.
The United Nations has called on all Malawians to respect each other’s religious beliefs and engage in peaceful dialogue to resolve differences.
It has also called on the State authorities to ensure that all people of Malawi are able to exercise their beliefs and cultural practices free from persecution and discrimination.
Two people were injured and various properties destroyed, including residential houses, M’manga Anglican Church, M’manga primary and community day secondary schools and a mosque.