The ASRI Institute, a new public policy group, is set to launch in May with the objective of giving the local Muslim community a focal point through which to engage with broader civil society. The institute will have a core focus on domestic policy issues, and will seek to provide aid in finding solutions to the major problems currently facing the country.
“As a Muslim community we have to re-engage with wider civil society. The only way to solve the major issues facing South Africa today is for civil society to be a big player within the next 5 to 10 years, in terms of the future of our society and constitutional democracy,” said the institutes’ Mohammed Cajee.
Four key areas of note for the group will be South Africa’s underwhelming education and healthcare systems, job creation, escalating levels of crime, as well as nation building as a whole.
The ASRI Institute will essentially be built up as a research institute. But whilst seeking to give rise to the ‘Muslim voice’, Cajee was keen to avoid labelling the organization a Muslim one. Rather, it would aim to serve as a mainstream policy institute operating within a wider scope.
But there is still expected to be a strong focus on redirecting the Muslim community from the path of isolation, which as a minority it has been heading down.
“In the last 15 years we have become extremely isolated as a community and I think it is very important that we start encouraging civic activism and engagement within the next generation in our community, as well as our current professionals and academics,” said Cajee.
ASRI will be launching with a civil society conference on the 14th and 15th May in Johannesburg; an event which will see VOC collaborating as a media partner. The conference will be split into two parts, namely a gala dinner on the Friday, and the actual conference the following day. The latter will see the National Development Plan (NDP) serve as the topic of discussion.
Keynote speaker for the gala dinner will be Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Invitations have also been sent out to a range of leaders within government, the labour sector, as well as civil society.
Tickets for the conference itself will be R240, will the dinner will cost R480 per person (R720 for both). To make it more accessible to potential attendees, organizers have implemented a 6 month payment method.
For more information, visit www.asri.org.za. The website has an overview of the conference and all relevant information about the institute. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)