Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Malawi atheists fight against superstition

Hats off to The Association of Secular Humanism in Malawi, which is fighting for the release of 
dozens of women jailed on allegations of practising witchcraft. The Association of Secular Humanism wants President Bingu wa Mutharika to order the immediate release of 80 women, many of them elderly, sentenced to up to six years imprisonment with hard labour. Most of them were accused of teaching witchcraft to children.

Witchcraft is not currently a crime under Malawian law, however, the government has set up a committee to investigate criminalising the practice.

Recently, Mr Mutharika pardoned Malawi's first openly gay couple after previously sentencing them to 14 years' imprisonment.

That last sentence shows the kind of man the President is. In pardoning the offending couple, President Mutharika said

In all aspects of reasoning, in all aspects of human understanding, these two gay boys were wrong - totally wrong.
However, now that they have been sentenced, I as the president of this country have the powers to pronounce on them and therefore, I have decided that with effect from today, they are pardoned and they will be released.
It's fairly clear from Mutharika's tone, and the hints in the article, that he only let the two go after pressure from countries like the UK and the US, whose aid budgets keep Malawi going, and also keep Mutharika flying to

Canada, Zambia, Namibia, Swaziland, Germany, China, U.S., Cuba and Iran. The president is scheduled to travel to India and Britain before the end of the year.
While the president gallivants around the world on spurious trips, his country suffers fuel rationing, with many businesses suspending operations.

Good luck to the atheists in Malawi, but I hold out little hope for lasting success with figureheads like that.

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