Prejudice in South Africa has a long history. Years after the end of apartheid, have we really dealt with our prejudices and hatred?
When a man is called a “kaffir” and “terrorist”, beaten, and dies from injuries sustained, makes us question whether we have really moved away from the hatred. I don’t know the deceased, Mohammed Fayaz Kazi, but this incident really shocked me. We hear about hate crimes in other countries, from the Sikh shooting to the burning of mosques in Joplin to other countries facing ethnic cleansing.
Racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, sexism, anti-Semitism, every possible phobia you can think off; continues to threaten social unity in South Africa and globally.
We have a dynamic and beautiful country. We strive every day to unite through our diversity, our years living under apartheid; made us never want to live that way again. The reality is that prejudice and hatred remains in South Africa, are we doing enough to address it.
“Rainbow Nation” defines our society; yet HATE crimes are on the rise.
“Practicing one’s religion is not terrorism”
Unfortunately, after 9/11 and the escalation of the “war on terror”, Muslims are viewed under a cloud of suspicion, and this suspicion has become universal.
Being Islamic does not mean being a violent, extremist person, it simply means you are committed to a spiritual purpose; you respect all Gods’ creations irrespective of race, colour, gender, creed or nationality.
Having a beard, wearing a turban, a headscarf, a niqaab, dressing in a modest way should not be taken as a symbol of backwardness or oppression nor should it be seen as a symbol of terrorism; violence or extremism. No person should be ridiculed or mocked for their attire either. The beard has great significance in other faiths like Judaism, Sikhism or Christianity. Priests, Rabbis, clerics, Religious Authorities have beards.
So this isn’t just Islamophobia; it’s a hatred of anyone who is different or religious.
I am not talking about hearing someone say: “the family next door are Muslim but they’re not too bad’ or “a woman walks past wearing a headscarf or niqaab and the glances you get ‘that woman’s either oppressed or making a political statement’.
I am talking about the hatred which causes someone to lose their life because of how they look, what they believe in and for standing up for those beliefs.
When did a beard, become a lethal weapon?
When did a persons’ attire become grounds for insults and harassments and death?
Muslims worldwide are constantly judged by the actions of misguided followers. We are 700 000 ordinary and peace loving Muslims in South Africa. We are not perfect, but I can tell you this much we condemn groups or individuals who kill innocent people in the name of our religion. They are not martyrs. ISLAM is a religion of peace and forbids violence and unjust killings.
MUSLIMS with a real understanding of Islam know that the word and the essence of Islam emanate and preach peace, compassion, tolerance of all religions and beliefs, and respect for humanity and human dignity.
Those who commit criminal acts of violence need to be dealt with not just by the full force of the law and their acts must not be used as an opportunity to undo all that our country has done thus far to get rid of racial, religious stereotyping and prejudices. They should never be allowed to divide our country on the basis of faith.
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