Communities and organizations of all religious backgrounds gathered outside the constitutional court in Johannesburg on Sunday, for an inter-faith vigil in solidarity with those killed at the hands of radical religious groups. The protest came in light of the actions of the Islamic State (IS) group, who have terrorized communities across Syria and Northern Iraq.
IS have made global headlines in recent months, following the shocking beheadings of two US journalists, and a British aid worker. Their campaign has been driven by the aim of expanding a self declared ‘Islamic caliphate’.
The vigil was hosted by Faithworks, a network of predominantly Muslim women aiming to empower and educate the local Muslim community. It was opened to members of all faiths, a decision motivated by the fact that non-Muslim communities were feeling the brunt of IS’s brutal campaign.
Faithworks representative, Razina Munshi, said the event was hosted to mobilize people into taking action against such atrocities. She said Muslims had a responsibility to speak out against any organization that presented itself as Islamic, yet acted in a manner that was contrary to the Quran or the tradition of the Prophet (S.A.W).
The event was attended by a number of key speakers, including well known political analyst, Steven Friedman, executive director of the Foundation of Human Rights in SA, Yasmin Sooka, and executive director of the Afro-Middle East Centre, Na’eem Jeenah.
According to Munshi, Sooka in particular took time to focus on the parallels between the different types of religious fundamentalism, as well as the underlying fear that drove it.
“She also spoke about not tarnishing a particular faith because of the actions of certain individuals,” she said.
Also in attendance were representatives of the Jewish Voice for a Just Peace, one of the organizations to have stood out strongly against Israel’s recent campaign in the Gaza Strip.
The event also featured poetry presentations from some of those in attendance. In addition, protesters were requested to bring along a pair of children’s shoes, as an act of solidarity with children killed at the hands of groups like IS.
“We displayed these shoes quite prominently at venue, which was at the constitutional court in Johannesburg,” said Munshi.
She reiterated the call for Muslims to stand up and raise their voice against these atrocities.
“We need to say that we as Muslim in South Africa stand in solidarity with those children and adults that have lost their lives, as a result of organizations that present itself as Muslim,” she added. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)