In an attempt to reduce growing levels of prejudice and stigma towards Islam and Muslims in Malawi, the Muslim community in the country has rolled off an initiative to enable the media access information easily about the religion.
The growing levels of prejudice have created a room for discrimination. Muslims are being discriminated against. We are being sidelined in so many ways. We are underrepresented in so many institutions,” Sheikh Jafalie Kwawings, Executive Director for Muslim Forum for Democracy and Development (MUSFORD), an organization implementing the initiative, told a news site.
“We are the last group of people to be considered for anything in this country. This is a clear indication of the amount of hatred people have towards Muslims in this country.
“Through this approach, we will be able to work closely with the media. We will be able to some extent train journalist on various issues which are often misunderstood by the general public. Journalists provide information to the public; therefore, they should always be in the know. If they lack knowledge, the possibility of them misinforming the public is very high.
“This initiative will help to change people’s attitude towards Muslims and Islam. It is will change people’s mindset about Islam,” Kawinga added.
Kawinga, whose organization has provided civic education on issues about democracy and development to all Malawians of diverse religious leanings, blamed the media for creating a “bad picture” of Islam and Muslims.
This approach, he added, was blamed for the increase of anti-Muslim sentiments in the country.
“Islam is being associated with all sorts of bad things, because of the way it is being portrayed in the media. Some people believe all the bad things being written about us. It is time to change this picture,” said Kawinga.
Through this initiative, Kawinga said MUSFORD will provide adequate information to the media on anything the public should know about Islam.
Kawinga then appealed for financial support from well-wishers across the world for the project to be sustained.
“For the project to succeed, there is need for adequate financial resources. We would like therefore to appeal to well meaning Muslims globally to support this initiative,” he added.
The country has got only one radio station exclusively for Muslims, Radio Islam, which is limited in capacity to contain the growing levels of prejudice and stigma towards Muslims.
Islam is the second largest religion after Christianity. Muslims account for 36% of the country’s 15 million population.