LILONGWE (Reuters) - Muslims in southern Malawi have been burning Bibles in protest against their distribution in Islamic schools by Gideon’s International, a senior Muslim Association of Malawi official said on Tuesday.
“That annoyed some parents and other leaders who have resorted to burning the holy books ... in protest,” Sheikh Imran Sharif, the association’s secretary general, told Reuters.
He said the burning of Bibles was carried out by a few Muslim fanatics and the association has ordered them to stop.
Malawi has 1.7 million Muslims, mostly living in the south of the country, that has a population of about 15 million.
The Muslim protest has been widely criticised in secular Malawi, which has had little religious friction.
Reverend McDonald Kadawati, a leading Christian clergyman asked Muslim leaders to ask followers to stop burning Bibles.
“This is a sad case of religious intolerance and we condemn it in all uncertain terms,” Kadawati said. He called on police to arrest those involved.
Inspector General of Police Peter Mukhito said police have launched an investigation but did not say how many Bibles have been burnt.
Gideon’s International, which is dedicated to providing copies of the Bible to people around the globe, said on its Website it has distributed about 90 million Bibles in 22 countries in eastern Africa.
The incident in Malawi comes after U.S. President Barack Obama appealed for religious tolerance last month in response to a Florida pastor’s threat to burn copies of the Koran, which sparked an outcry in the Muslim world.