'Swaziland row' over teaching only Christianity
Schools have opened in Swaziland under a new government order to teach only Christianity, leading to criticism that it is fuelling intolerance towards other religions, AFP news agency reports.
The education ministry last week instructed all head teachers to ensure that the syllabus would not mention any religion other than Christianity, it adds.
It quotes Sahid Matsebula, a Swazi-born Muslim who works for a mosque near the capital, Mbabane, that the policy could worsen religious friction in the tiny kingdom:
What plan does the government have in place for our children who are not Christian? They will be taught one thing at home and taught something else at school."
The new policy comes after public complaints over Asian and Muslim migration into the country led parliament to set up a commission of enquiry last year, AFP reports.
Some illegal migrants have since been deported, and Minister of Commerce and Trade Jabulani Mabuza told parliament that a law making it harder for foreigners to set up businesses in Swaziland was in the pipeline, the agency adds.
Stephen Masilela, the president of the Swaziland Conference of Churches, welcomed the new syllabus:
Christianity is the bedrock religion on which this country was built."
Swaziland, ruled by King Mswati III since 1986, has a tiny Muslim population.
The Christian-only policy for schools has also been criticised by columnist Nomsa Mbuli in the Times of Swaziland:
What elevates one religion above the rest, when the constitution that was created by Swazis allows equality between religions?"
King Mswati III is sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch