Malmesbury Mosque attack: A breach of the Cape Accord

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By Colleta Dewa

Johannesburg – The Muslim community in South Africa has been rocked by divisions and counteraccusations, following another Mosque attack in Malmesbury, resulting in the death of two people.

The motive for the attack remains unclear and it comes a month after a similar incident in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal, in which one person was killed.

The Muslim community in South Africa is increasingly being subjected to a climate of fear and suspicion.

Many wonder if South Africa's Shi'a community is under attack, but why, and by whom, is unclear.

The Muslim community recently signed a document dubbed the Cape Accord aimed at promoting peace and unity among the Islamic community.

“With the current climate of intra-faith hostility and increasing attacks on foremost figures within our faith community, it befits leading institutions and organisations in our societies to synergistically ally with one another to proactively engage each other in promoting understanding, tolerance, harmony and fraternal union," reads the Cape Accord.

Sources from the Muslim community, however, told The Southern Times that the Cape accord was not signed by all leaders who were expected to sign it.

Last week, a voice note of a man, believed to be a well-known Muslim cleric, was doing the rounds saying: "Anybody who signs the Cape Accord is a Kafir meaning unbeliever."

In his speech during the Muslim Ramadan, President Ramaphosa praised the Muslim community for coming up with the Cape Accord saying it would help maintain peace and tolerance within the community. 

“We will never be a country that allows discrimination of any sort. In this regard, I commend the speedy response from both the Muslim Judicial Council and the Cape Accord in condemning any possible sectarian motives that may have been behind the gruesome attack at the Verulam Shia Mosque, just as we were welcoming this holy month of Ramadan," said  Ramaphosa.

The United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA) issued a statement on Monday; "Has the Cape Accord led to greater discord?" arguing that it had achieved exactly the opposite of its intended purpose.

“We find it strange that the drafters of the Accord did not find it necessary to consult important stakeholders, nor the need for any inclusive public participation," it said.

On Wednesday, the Muslim Judicial Council of South Africa issued a statement on its Facebook page calling for tolerance and unity. It said the month of Ramadan had been extremely difficult for Muslims in the country.

"It was plagued by much controversy, discord and disunity, from defamation and slander, to blatant disrespect and takfirism (excommunication). This discord had a direct impact on our reputation as a tolerant and dignified community, who pride in our Din (religion) in our beautiful land.

“Whilst the Muslim Judicial Council (of South Africa) has not endorsed the Cape Accord, we reject the declaration of Kufr (disbelief) on our Úlama, individuals, and organisations associated with the Accord. 

“They don't deserve the vitriol,” added the organisation.

Imam Rashied Omar from Cape Town's Claremont Road Mosque told journalists that there was a lot of tension in the community.

Meanwhile, most Muslims in South Africa have expressed concern over the ongoing terrorism in neighbouring Mozambique where an ongoing conflict in Cabo Delgado Province between Ansar al-Sunna, an Islamist militant group attempting to establish an Islamic state in Mozambique, and Mozambican security forces has left many civilians including children and women dead.

 

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