With protests in the streets of Bo-Kaap now in its third week, youth from the predominantly Muslim community will organise another mass iftaar this Friday, 8 June – this time in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. The iftaar is in support of International Quds Day, an annual event held on the last Friday in Ramadan to highlight the continued occupation of Palestine. The youth believe there is a clear parallel between the Palestinian struggle and that of Bo-Kaap residents, who are forced to move out of the historical area due to gentrification.
A march will take place this Friday from Keizersgracht Street in District Six. The march starts at 14h00 and supporters will end off in Bo-Kaap and join the Iftaar and Maghrib salaah held in Wale Street.
District Six residents, who also share the pain of displacement of the Apartheid Group Areas Act, will be joining in protest. The District Six community wants to draw attention to their ongoing calls for government to speed up the restitution process, for transparency of available land, against the lack of infrastructure and against the increase of criminal activity in the area. Coordinator of the protest, Weaam Williams, explained that residents are frustrated by the increase of prostitution and drug use on restitution land.
“We have all these elements encroaching on our residential area within a few metres from where we live, so many of us live in fear. We have had many meetings with our ward councilor, but there has not been any action. It feels like no money is being put into District Six,” she stated.
Williams said the protest will begin in Pontac Street at 16h00 on Friday and will culminate with the Bo Kaap Iftaar.
“We will walk through Wale Street with our placards. We are planning to stop at a construction site and chant there and then proceed up to Bo Kaap to join the iftaar.”
The street iftaar event is organised by Bo-Kaap Youth, an organisation aimed at addressing pressing issues within the community, particularly looking to uplift the youth.
“The boeka is open to everyone, especially those who can relate to falling victim to gentrification and the dispossession of land. Supporters are advised to bring along a prayer mat and something light to break their fast with,” said Bo-Kaap Youth.
“Islam is a huge part of the cultural heritage of the Bo-Kaap community and the idea behind the mass Iftaar is not only to manifest a sense of community, but also to reap the rewards of breaking your fast with your fellow brothers and sisters, praying together and sharing a meal. This form of resistance has shown to be successful over the last two weeks and this Friday the community will commemorate Palestine. There will be various prominent speakers at the event and it will definitely be one to remember.”
Due to the protests, main roads are being blocked off; namely Wale Street and Rose Street which are commonly used as detours to avoid traffic, but ultimately redirect the traffic to the area. Residents say the tour busses commute in and out of the area and also cause congestion by stopping on the side of the road and offloading groups of tourists. The community has raised concerns that tourists are being given an inaccurate narrative of the cultural heritage when strolling through the area.
Another major concern is the number of high-rise buildings and apartments being constructed in the community. Residents say these are marked as “sold” before the foundation is even laid. This has angered the youth, as they have no land available for recreational use, despite their futile efforts in trying to convince the City of Cape Town.
“The youth have had enough and want to salvage what is left. That is the driving force behind these protests. We believe the turnout this week is expected to be double that of last week,” said the organisation.
“Show your support this Friday for the people of Bo-Kaap and other communities such as; District Six, Woodstock and Salt River to name a few, who are also victims and deserve to have their character and uniqueness preserved and be free from gentrification.”