Thursday, March 26, 2009

Niger outlaws Muslim street preachers

NIAMEY: Niger has banned Islamic preachers from the airwaves as well as streets 
and markets to prevent "religious anarchy" in the west African country, the 
Religious Affairs Ministry announced on Wednesday. In a statement, the ministry 
said it had outlawed the broadcasting of preachers and religious debates 
"likely to create ill-feeling and present a severe test of social cohesion". 
"Some religious circles resort to insults, through the media, or broadcast 
provocative preachers and messages likely to upset the tranquillity between the 
different Muslim brotherhoods," Religious Affairs Minister Issaka Labo said on 
state television. 

Muslim associations must in future have official authorisation to preach in 
public areas, and provide the authorities with the venue, date and the hour the 
sermon is to take place, according to the ministry. The vast majority of the 
state's 13 million population are Muslim, mostly moderate Sunnis. There are 
small Christian and Bahai communities. Despite the rapid growth of Islamisation 
in recent years, Niger has managed to avoid the religious violence, which has 
hit its southern neighbour Nigeria. The government has tried to regulate 
Islamic preachers since 2006, warning that "tendentious sermons going beyond 
the instructions of the holy Quran" would not be tolerated. afp

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