Amid claims in a Sunday Independent article alleging that 140 South African’s are now recruited as part of the Islamic State (IS) radical group, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has called for an urgent investigation by the Department of State Security into the reports. Speaking to VOC News, the ulema body stressed that the allegations were yet to be substantiated, and that it was not aware of any information to prove them true.
The call comes after the MJC took a hard-line stance against the radical group, condemning its actions in Syria and Iraq and rejecting any links to Islam. They accused IS of seeking legitimacy by claiming the title of ‘caliphate’, despite being in clear violation of the fundamentals of Islamic Sharia. The body also warned citizens against falling prey to any recruitment attempts that may or may not be occurring in the country.
MJC public relations officer Nabeweya Mallick said the story was one that raised the concern, leading them to investigate the matter further. However, they had noted that most of the claims had failed to provide a clear source, leading to questions as to whether they were factual, or a mere attempt at putting Muslims under a negative spotlight.
“As Muslims we abide by the rule of the land. We also have more than enough evidence that IS does not represent Muslims and the principles that Islam provides, with regards to the treatment of non-Muslims living in Muslim countries,” she said.
The allegations come despite the local ulema fraternity being firm in their condemnation of IS. This is coupled with the fact that the country has strong legislation in the form of the Foreign Military Assistance Act, which barrs citizen involvement in any foreign military force.
As reported in the article, three South African citizens recruited by the group have already perished in the region. Two are supposed to hail from Johannesburg, with the third being a Cape Town native. The report quotes Iraqi Ambassador, Dr. Hisham Al-Alawi, as the main source of these reports. But Mallick reiterated that there was no substantial proof to confirm such accusations.
The claims risk further fueling a sense of Islamophobia amongst non-Muslim citizens. With radical groups using the religion as a means of furthering their own political ideologies, Mallick said this painted a view that Muslims were inherently violent, and were willing to support these groups.
“They use terms like Islamic State, and wanting to establish an Islamic rule of law. But at the same time they have completely trashed and violated any standards that one would expect from an Islamic State,” she stated.
She believes Islam is going through a difficult period where Muslims were being burdened with the label of ‘terrorism’. Clearing such misconceptions would likely take years and, coupled with the actions of IS, would do little to help dispel them.
Assuming the allegations proved true, Mallick said they would turn to the law of the country to take action.
“If there are Muslims who commit crimes and violate the law of the land, we will certainly expect the Justice Department and Department of State Security will take action against these individuals,” she said.
The MJC has given its full backing for any investigation into the reports. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)