The recent attack and siege of Kenya’s Westgate mall has met with outrage from across the globe and rightly so. Attacks on innocent civilians are inexcusable and are to be condemned most vociferously. This is irrespective of whether the aggressors are Muslim or not and whether the victims are Muslims or not. The Jamiatul Ulama KZN condemns the recent terrorist activity witnessed in Nairobi in the strongest of terms. The loss of every innocent life is a cause of sorrow for all of humanity.
It is extremely unfortunate that while we are living in the “enlightened age”, we are witnessing a period of such horrendous atrocities that it harkens back to the dark ages. Wars, military coups, destabilisation of governments, imprisonment without trial and torture of prisoners seem to be the order of the day. At the end of the day, violence breeds violence. Jane Kamau, one of the survivors of the mall attack reports, “They said, ‘We are the Al-Shabaab, we are here to kill you for killing our women in Somalia!’” This chilling statement brings some perspective into this tragedy. This is not an isolated incident. There is a war being fought. The world has witnessed first-hand the horrible violence wrought by Al-Shabaab. What we have not seen are the actions of the Kenyan Military in Somalia against whom Al-Shabaab is claiming vengeance. While truth is generally the first casualty of war, it is most unfortunate that civilian lives are now replacing that position.
Need for Muslim apology
The peculiar thing about these happenings is that there suddenly arises the need for the entire Muslim world to now stand, cap in hand, and apologise for the evil actions of a fringe group of extremists? Why is this so? Did the vast majority of the Muslim World have anything to do with it? Did they sanction and encourage their actions? Has the world not heard for the hundredth time that terrorism is not part of the Islamic faith? Have thousands of the most eminent Islamic scholars not stood up all over the globe to condemn such actions in the recent past? Yet the victimisation of Islam and Muslims in general continues unabated.
The South African Angle
Another alarming point to note is that whenever these tragedies occur, we generally have a bunch of “experts” jumping onto media platforms in South Africa trying their utmost to create the impression that South Africa is a haven for terrorists and is somehow linked to terrorist activity. Baseless facts and unsubstantiated claims are sensationalised to incite and create fear among the general public. Strangely enough, we find the same individuals coming out of the woodwork and harping over the same issues almost as though they were being paid to do so.
The South African Muslim community is not some underground entity that suddenly needs to be investigated. The Muslims in South Africa have walked with the anti-apartheid movement from its early days. They have contributed time and again to assisting the poor, the destitute and the victims of disasters and wars of all faiths in South Africa and throughout the globe. They are your colleagues, friends, business associates and fellow South African citizens. If you have witnessed terrorist activity from them, then by all means report it to the world. But if you have not, then human decency would have you stand up against fear-mongering and injustice.
Moulana Moosa Salie
Jamiatul Ulama (KZN)
Council of Muslim Theologians
223 Alpine Road, Overport, Durban
Tel : +27 (0) 31 2077099
Fax : +27(0) 31 2074163
Website : www.jamiat.org.za