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Slow response from SA Muslims to Obama Cape Town honour

Azhar Vadi – Cii News/Opinion, – May 31, 2012

“If we look at the reaction in Cape Town, it is sad. It is a reflection on us, as the people of Cape Town and particularly those who stand up and voice their solidarity with oppressed people all over the world,” expressed Farid Sayed, the editor-in-chief of the popular newspaper, Muslim Views, on Cii’s morning programme, Sabahul Khair, today. The Cape of Storms seems tranquilised with nothing more than a whimper in reaction to the proposal that US ‘Warrior President’, Barack Obama, could be in line to receive the freedom of the Mother City. And as the weather service would attest to, the cold fronts that start in the Cape usually spread up north. Most of South Africa is following Slaap Stad on this one.

With the plethora of mainstream media coverage focused on SA President Jacob Zuma and ‘The Spear’ painting, the South African public has received little information about the decision by the Cape Town city council, headed by Mayor Patricia de Lille, to approve a proposal to bestow Obama with such an honour.

Media neglect aside, purposely or accidentally, one would still expect at least some sort of rumblings from within South Africa against a move that opposes all the principles of justice and equality so embedded within the historical fibres of our society. There may be some room for justification, where with all our own social and political problems as a country, who cares whether a dying horse gets an award from Ms. De Lille or not.

Yet the silence from South African Muslims and organisations cannot be ignored. Besides a joint statement from the Muslim Judicial Council and the Media Review Network, prior to the actual approval which occurred on 28 May 2012, no other South African Muslim organisation disapproved of this significant political development that will most likely have diplomatic implications as final consultations have yet to take place with the South African Presidency.

Are SA Muslims scared of challenging Uncle Sam directly or perhaps of being profiled by some unknown intelligence organisation leading to harassment during overseas travels? We all know the hadith “The best Jihad is a speech of truth in the presence of a tyrant ruler.” (Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi) Or is it simply a case of apathy on this particular instance?

A number of callers to Cii Broadcasting last week indicated that they would take up the cudgels and write to Mayor De Lille expressing their disgust at the council’s decision. That obviously did not make any tangible difference. Several individuals have now taken to social networking using #ObamaCT to try and rouse some clamour about the seriousness of the issue facing the country. Perhaps, perhaps they may be counted as amongst those who opposed tyranny.

The question must be asked. Where are the various theological bodies and media groups? Who, where or what has the power of the mimbar been lost to? Why aren’t there any posters on our masjid boards explaining the matter? Why aren’t the SA Muslim twitterrati latching on to this issue? It is impossible for a single medium or broadcaster to be used to inform all Muslims and other South Africans about something as core to our humanness as this one. Or maybe I am making a noise about a non-issue and wasting my time and yours.

It’s no secret that the vast majority of victims that have stained the hands of people like Obama red have been Muslims around the world. Perhaps we will respond once the spear has been pulled out of the back of the Ummah and we get a chance to again focus on other key issues affecting South African Muslims.

Last week I posted a rhetorical question to Ms. De Lille. I asked her if she thought that the family members of those killed by US drone strikes would serenade her with flowers for honouring Obama. Of course they wouldn’t. But she is not Muslim. What do you think they would say, or think, of Muslims who remained silent while their children’s killer was honoured?

The MJC’s and MRN’s letter to President Jacob Zuma on the Freedom of Cape Town to Barack Obama

The Hon. President of the Republic of South Africa 4th June 2012

Mr. Jacob Zuma.



The Media Review Network(MRN) and the Muslim Judicial Council(MJC) are astonished and dumbfounded that the Democratic Alliance (DA), with Patricia de Lille in tandem, have announced their intentions to bestow the freedom of the City of Cape Town on Barack Obama.

Our understanding to bequeath such an honour on any individual is based on outstanding achievements which distinguishes him or her as being a member of the human society par excellence.

On becoming President of the US in 2009, Obama’s speech in Cairo on the ME peace process was morally bankrupt as any of his predecessor’s. He has not brought the world any closer to peace, as the US Memorial Day suggests. Instead he has continued on the path of retaining the mantra of ‘permanent war’ accompanied by zero accountability.

Obama’s intimate role in authorizing US drone attacks overseas is a cold-blooded account of how he and his disciples in Washington decide on who will live and who must die. Innocent Pakistani, Yemeni, Somali and Afghani civilians have lost their lives or have suffered traumatic injuries that have changed their lives forever. This is in clear violation of the due process of the law, which is a corner stone of any civilized society.

This invitation undoubtedly has a self-serving motive. By asking the Presidency to ratify the invitation, the DA is hoping to make political capital if it is turned down. The Presidency will be placed in a situation of: “damned if you do and damned if you don’t”. This political game played by the DA does not serve the national interest. On the contrary, it has the potential to create a huge international row for our country that will have wide ramifications both politically and economically. The DA has certainly not acted in the best interest of South Africa.

The MRN and the MJC urge President Zuma and the Presidency not to succumb to this form blackmail as a result of DA politicking at the behest of their financial beneficiaries. The role of corporate South Africa must not be underestimated in this bigotry.

Thank you.

Zaakir Ahmed Mayet

Chairman: Media Review Network

Opposition to this notion is growing and the No To Obama Award Campaign set up ntoacsa@gmail.com for support for the opposition.

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