Islamic preachers banned from broadcast media and public places – Niger

On 25 March the religious affairs ministry of Niger announced that some Islamic preachers were to be banned from the airwaves to prevent “religious anarchy”. The ministry said in a statement that it had outlawed the broadcasting of preachers and religious debates that were “likely to create ill-feeling and present a severe test of social cohesion”. The Religious Affairs Minister, Issaka Labo, said on state television that “some religious circles resort to insults through the media, or broadcast provocative preachers and messages likely to upset the tranqui llity between the different Muslim brotherhoods”. New restrictions have also been introduced on Islamic preaching in streets and markets. According to the ministry, Muslim associations must in future have official authorisation to preach in public areas and have to tell the authorities the venue, date and time of any sermon. The government has tried to regulate Islamic preachers since 2006. It has warned that “tendentious sermons going beyond the instructions of the Qur’an” will not be tolerated. The vast majority of Niger’s population of 13 million is Muslim, mostly moderate Sunnis. There are also very small Christian and Baha’i communities. Despite the rapid progress of Islamisation in recent years, Niger has so far managed to avoid the religious violence that has afflicted its southern neighbour Nigeria and has maintained peace between the country’s religious groups. Although the banning of inflammatory preaching by Muslims on air and in public is intended to prevent inter- Islamic quarrels, it will also enhance the security of Niger’s Christians. • Praise the Lord that the government of Niger has taken firm action to maintain public order and peace between the country’s religious groups. Pray for the effective implementing of the new restrictions. • Pray for the small Christian minority in Niger, that it may be kept safe and free, and that the process of Islamisation in the country will be arrested and reversed.

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