Just as people in Swaziland are increasingly turning against Muslims, the Swazi Ministry of Education has said from Tuesday (24 January 2017) the only religion to be taught in public schools would be Christianity.
Until now, the Religious Education syllabus included Christianity, Islam, Baha’i faith and Swazi ancestors. The decision reportedly came from the Swazi Cabinet, which is handpicked by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
Also, all pupils will be obliged to take Religious Education throughout their time at primary and high school.
The Times of Swaziland reported on Thursday (19 January 2017) that Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Pat Muir, said government was targeting the ability for school children to differentiate between morality and immorality and also to ensure that children were not confused.
The Times reported, ‘He said they believed Christianity was the best way to achieve this.’
It quoted Muir saying, ‘When they reach university or go to college, they will then be able to make a decision on whether they want to learn about other religions because then they will be matured and will not be easily confused.’
In recent times there has been widespread criticism of ‘Asian’ people in general and Muslims in particular.
In November 2016, Swaziland’s Director of Public Prosecutions Nkosinathi Maseko told a parliamentary select committee set up to investigate what the Observer on Sunday newspaper called an ‘influx of illegal immigrants’ into the kingdom, ‘most nationals of Asian origin were associated with terrorist activities’.
In the same month, Muslims in Swaziland reported they were ‘terrorised’ by local police. The Imam of Ezulwini Islamic Centre, Feroz Ismail, said guests had visited the kingdom from across Africa for a graduation and Jasla Ceremony.
The Times of Swaziland newspaper on 23 November 2016 reported him saying the guests, ‘were abused while in the country. They informed me that they were terrorised by the police while visiting some tourist attraction areas including the glass and candle factory.’
He said police demanded that the visitors produce their passports and other documents required for visitors to be in the country.
The Times reported Ismail saying, ‘They were ferried in police vehicles to their hotel rooms as the officers demanded that they immediately produce documents which proved that they were in the country legally.’
This is not the first time police have been heavy-handed with Muslims. In September 2016, it was reported undercover police were infiltrating Muslim mosques to attend Friday prayers.
The Times, the only independent daily newspaper in the overwhelmingly Christian kingdom, reported that police were suspected of monitoring the Muslim community.
In September 2016, hungry people in Swaziland defied Christian leaders and attended a Muslim ceremony, because free meat was being given away. As part of the Islamic Eid-ul-Adah ceremony Muslims slaughter meat and give one third of it away to needy people.
When it was announced that free meat would be available, Christian leaders condemned the move and ordered their flocks to stay away.
President of the League of Churches Bishop Simon Hlatjwako was reported by the Times of Swaziland saying true Christians would not participate in the event and would not eat the free meat offered by Muslims.
‘True Christians should not dare set foot at the Muslim slaughtering ceremony,’ he reportedly said. He added, ‘Personally, I would not even bother myself; I do not care about their meat and ceremonies. Muslims worship their own god and as Christians, we do not go along with their god.’
The newspaper also reported Bishop Steven Masilela, President of the Conference of Churches, saying as they were the body of Christ, they were not allowed to eat everything.
ALL ASIANS BANNED FROM SWAZILAND