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FULL TEXT: MJC makes an impassioned appeal to Ramaphosa to address key issues

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Here is a transcript of a speech delivered by MJC second deputy president Shaykh Riad Fataar at last night’s iftaar dinner with state president Cyril Ramaphosa

His Excellency President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister of Economic
Development Mr Ebrahim Patel, Deputy Secretary General of the ANC Sister Yasmine Duarte, the ANC
Western Cape Provincial Secretary Brother Faiez Jacobs, Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, the Life President of
the MJC Shaykh Abdul Gamied Gabier, the former President of the MJC, Maulana Ihsaan Hendriks, the
President of the United Úlamā (Theologian) Council of South Africa (UUCSA) Shaykh Igsaan Taliep, Heads of
the Civil Society movements and the various leaders of the Muslim community present today, all protocols

Assalaamu Alaykum Waraghmatulaahi Wabarakaatu, Good evening to one and all.

The MJC is indeed honoured and privileged to be hosting the President of South Africa, His Excellency Mr
Cyril Ramaphosa.

Honourable guests, as we know, everything has a form and an essence. Whilst fasting in Islam assumes the
form of abstention from food, drink, and marital intercourse from sunrise to sunset, its essence is to cultivate God-consciousness.

The revolutionary nature of the month of Ramadan rekindles in us the ethos of being human and the
challenges that face us as part of a collective rather than as an insular and insignificant individual.
During this holy month of heightened spiritual awareness, we therefore commit our collective consciousness to eradicating the daily struggles of our peoples, by fostering and translating this spirit, to the extent that Ramadan crystallizes the epitome of our self-sacrificing nature and benevolence to bringing about social justice.

The Muslim Judicial Council has a strong history and relationship with the ANC. Our first president and father of our nation Mr Nelson Mandela in his speech in 1997 at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies said:

“South Africa’s vibrant Islamic heritage is a valued and respected part of our nation. It is contributing to the forging of a new South African identity.’

As the MJC we are proud of this history. As you will know Mr. President, Islam was a banned religion since it arrived at the shores of South Africa and for a period of about 150 years, Islam was a forbidden religion. Together with our compatriots we actively fought for the dismantling of successive imperial, colonial and apartheid regimes.

As a Muslim community, we acknowledge and reinforce the role of the ANC in the struggle for freedom and
liberation. Today we are the beneficiaries of this freedom, being able to not only practise our faith but also
to have our culture and religion respected and protected by our Government and the ruling party, the African National Congress by way of the Republic of South Africa’s Bill of Rights.

Mr President, as a people who stand with the oppressed in other parts of the world, we appreciate the
progressive position the ANC took when it invited the leader of Hamas, brother Khalid Mishal as its official
guest in October 2015.

Brother Khalid Mishal went on record and said that the South African Government has been one of the
greatest supporters and friends of the people of Palestine. We applaud your administration for leading the global world along with Turkey in downscaling the diplomatic mission sin the illegitimate state of Israel and call for the full recall of our representatives from this Apartheid State.

Of concern to us is the escalating conflict in Syria that has destroyed an entire nation and caused one of the
biggest humanitarian crises the world has ever seen. In addition to Syria, Yemen, Myanmar, Afghanistan and conflicts on the African continent are also of grave concern.

Mr President, I would be failing in my duty if I do not highlight some of the burning issues we face as a Muslim community and as a nation:

1. Muslim Personal Law/ Muslim Marriage Bill
This issue has been a major concern for the Muslim community since we achieved our freedom and
democracy in 1994. Our marriages are NOT recognized thus our children are regarded as illegitimate.
Even when we die, our death certificates reflect, “not married”. This points to the moral indignity of our
marriages NOT being recognized as legal.

The customary marriage act had differences of opinion, but it was political-will that saw the enactment of
this bill. The overwhelming majority of Úlamā (Muslim Theological and Judiciary) bodies agree with the most
recent draft of the Bill and therefore we now ask your Honourable office to apply the same political-will for
the Muslim Marriage Bill to become the Muslim Marriage Act.

2. Land issues
Another issue of contention Mr President is the issue of land in South Africa. Gentrification efforts
spearheaded by Local Government has seen the unilateral increase of rates and taxes. This, in turn, pushed
and uprooted our people out of the inner cities to far-flung areas. In Bo – Kaap 4th generation inhabitants of their homes are forced to sell as they can no longer afford to live in the historic quarter.
Mr President, the State’s Restitution programme, noble as it is, 24 years into democracy, merely scratched
the surface. As an example, District 6 has only seen 200 families of the 5 000 return to their beloved home
in the shadows of Table Mountain. Two presidents have attended and opened phases in District 6, however, the project is nowhere near completion. The City of Cape Town is NOT or refuses to release land as they fear that property prices in the CBD will decrease if the construction of GAP housing is allowed.
Mr President, we request of you to call for and convene a District 6 Summit to address this issue.

Over the past two weeks or so Land Invasion has been more prevalent in the suburbs of Cape Town.
We understand the frustrations and impatience of informal settlement residents and backyard dwellers –
some of whom have been living in these conditions for more than 30 years.

However, illegal land occupation has many consequences. At this junction, we wish to highlight the
unintended racial tensions that affect those of us who live in the cold face of community engagement.
Mr President, we appeal to you to find, and institute immediate solutions to these challenges whilst we as a
country address land redistribution.

3. Safety and Security
The scourge of gangsterism & drugs, as well as the high crime levels in our society, is crippling our
communities and suffocating our citizens. Mr President, there is a desperate need for a dedicated gang unit
within SAPS that is, better equipped and resourced to eradicate this plague (of gangsterism and drugs) from
our societies.

Honourable President, Unemployment is at an all-time high. The Muslim community was well known for its
artisan trade. We built most of these buildings you see in and around Cape Town. Sadly, this trade is dying
out. We request the Government to renew its efforts in promoting and incentivising the construction and
other trades.

Stability and security of our country is the responsibility of each and every South African. We call on all our
citizens to assist the Government in identifying any activity that poses a threat to our safety and security as
a democratic nation, as well as our shared values of freedom.

4. Infiltration by extremist
As citizens of South Africa, peace and stability are paramount. As a community, we have contributed and
sacrificed towards attaining this. Therefore, we value and appreciate the freedoms of all South Africans to
practise their religion unhindered, and unrestricted.

We note with deep concern, the attempts made by foreign elements and extremists to infiltrate our country
and communities. These elements serve the agendas of nefarious forces seek to disturb the harmonious
balance we have developed over centuries with our compatriots of colour with whom we have shared
equally the burdens of colonialism and apartheid.

The recent attack on the mosque in Verulam we completely condemn and in fact, I visited the mosque days
after the murder to express our sympathies with the community. We are a law-abiding community and an
integral part of South African society.

We avail ourselves to assist the State in combatting extremism and foreign influences that seek to
destabilize our country and our democracy.

The Muslim community has active and large community development and social cohesion programmes. In
the past financial year, we estimate that as a collective the Muslim Community of South Africa, contributed
in excess of R2, 5 billion in social development initiatives to the people of South Africa.

As a community, we pledge to partner with the South African government in providing these much needed intervention and services to the needy community of this beautiful nation. We take pride in our multi-cultural and multi-religious, as well as peaceful co-existence.

Mr President, we beseech you to continue this great interaction and relationship with our Community
by working with us to build a strong civil society that works in partnership with government to address our
common challenges.

In the near future, we would like to see the establishment of an inter-ministerial task team to partner with
our community as we collectively address the Socio-Economic challenges we face as a nation.

Mr President, we a peace-loving and benevolent community, as well as an integral part of the landscape of
this country. Allow us to assist in fulfilling Tata Mandela’s dream of creating a prosperous and peaceful Africa.

We conclude with a prophetic saying of our role-model, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon
Him), who said, “The best of mankind is he who is most beneficial to mankind.”
Shukran / Thank you

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