The Muslim Judicial Council of South Africa (MJC) has acknowledged the need for a strong Muslim response to the situation faced by foreign nationals wanting to leave South Africa. The first-deputy president of the MJC has called the situation “a very painful” one.
“I agree that the situation is dire. It’s a very painful situation…
Much more is required from the Muslim community and perhaps we haven’t been motivated strongly toward this matter,” said first-deputy president of the MJC, Moulana Abdul Khaliq Ebrahim Allie, responding to criticism to the effect that Muslims have failed to contribute as much as they should up until now.
Chaos erupted in the Cape Town CBD on 30 October 2019 when the South African Police Service and the City’s Law Enforcement Unit were sent to carry out court orders to end a three-week long foreign national sit-in outside of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in the city. Public order police used stun grenades and water cannons to disperse the group, leading to violent scuffles with some refugees.
Hundreds of asylum seekers and refugees took part in the sit-in, demanding either repatriation or sponsored travel to countries such as Australia or Canada. Xenophobia, prejudice, difficulty in obtaining paperwork from home affairs and education have all been cited as reasons for the demands of the foreign nationals. Since then, over a thousand foreign nationals and refugees sought shelter at the Central Methodist Church in Cape Town.
While the church has received compliments from nearly all sectors of society for their generosity and hospitality, many local Muslims have criticised both the MJC and the Muslim community at large for their weak response. The project manager at the Gift of the Givers Foundation, Ali Sablay emphasised this, saying that approximately 70% of those in need of assistance at the church are of the Islamic faith.
Moulana Abdul Khaliq Ebrahim Allie expressed gratitude toward the Central Methodist Church for their service to the foreign nationals and refugees and added that the MJC would give the situation its immediate attention.
“The interfaith community in the Western Cape has noted the contribution and effort made. From the Muslim community, I’m very very sad to hear that people are asking what more can be done. I’d want to think that we’d like to call upon all our masaajid and committees to intensify our campaign of outreach to our fellow Africans. The matter requires our immediate attention,” he said.
The MJC plans to call on local masaajid to unite and contribute to the situation in a constructive and significant manner.