While many Muslims in Cape Town have been eagerly awaiting an update from the Muslim Judicial Council of South Africa (MJC) on the status of their investigation into the symbols left at the Mowbray Maqbara after the desecration which took place there recently, they might be disappointed with the outcomes thus far.
Head of communications at the MJC, Fazlin Fransman explained that due to the multitude of factors surrounding the desecration which was combined with the strange symbolism left at the cemetery, it is difficult to gain any clear explanation for the desecration from an investigation into the meaning of the symbols.
She addressed theories of the desecration and symbolism being possible acts of satanism, Christian extremism and even Islamophobia, saying that while all those are possibilities they cannot be confirmed nor denied at this point.
Fransman indicated that despite the assistance of Professor Asonzeh Ukah from the department of religious studies at the University of Cape Town in understanding the symbols left at the maqbara, the MJC still has no clue as to who might be responsible for the desecration.
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However, the MJC is looking into sourcing a second opinion and is determined to find the motivation behind the desecration of what is meant to be a respected place of rest.
“We need to get to understand why this took place and if there is some level of Islamophobia within the motive behind the desecration of the cemetery,” said Fransman.
“It is important for us to come with different levels of theories and conclusions because it also makes us aware, as a Muslim community, of what level of aggression there might be against the Muslim community [in Cape Town].
This was a very coordinated and well thought out execution…it was so detailed and it must have taken a lot of time to place all the stones in a particular order.”
Previous reports by VOC indicate that since the initial discovery of the desecration at the burial ground on 30 October, the University Estate and Walmer Estate neighbourhood watch groups discovered a stash of items – including flowers, headstones and vases – in what they thought to be the hiding spot of the perpetrators on the mountain slopes of Devils Peak.
However, their claim that the discovery was directly linked to the Mowbray desecration is contested and the MJC hasn’t independently verified whether the stash on the mountain was, in fact, linked.
The MJC wants to allow the South African Police Service space to investigate further and will proceed with further actions once more clarity is gained.
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Fransman also highlighted that the second-deputy president and cemetery management committee chairperson of the MJC, Shaykh Riad Fataar, has been engaging with the Mowbray Cemetery Committee as well as the City of Cape Town, looking at what kind of mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure that the sanctity of these grounds is protected.