Various Muslim organizations are having their say in the fall out of this week’s spy cable leaks on Al Jazeera’s website. Some cables between South Africa’s State Security Agency and other international groups claim suspicion of terrorist camps and front entities for forwarding the Iranian revolutionary plan.
But Maulana Shabbier Ahmed Salojee, principal of Darul Uloom Zakkariyah Park in Gauteng, whose organization is supposedly a front for terror training camps, says his organization is a purely academic one, and the community is well aware of it.
“We have no idea where these allegations come from, but South Africa’s government and the broader community is fully aware that we are nothing but an educational institute. They know we are engaged in purely religious, tertiary academic studies and we have no links whatsoever with what has been said in the [cables],” Salojee said.
He believes the belief by other governments’ security agencies that his school is involved with such activities is ignorant and biased.
“It is an unfortunate global trend that Islam has been painted [in this way] especially by the media, who projects Islam in a certain light. But I think everyone is aware that it is untrue and that [true] Islam has nothing to do with such activities.”
This sentiment is mirrored by Maulana Ebrahim Bham of the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa, a religious body of Muslim theologians. Bham says the spy cables reveal an ignorance on the part of international security bodies, to assume unsavoury activities can be found within any Muslim community, regardless of their location.
In a press statement on Thursday, Bham said: “What we have seen about the ‘spy cables’ so far reflects the use of very poor quality of intelligence and lack of understanding of the South African Muslim community. One is therefore left wondering how many suspected individuals have over the years been targeted and profiled based on such flawed intelligence.”
Bham urged the South African government to defend the rights of Muslims and other citizens and protect them from being spied on by foreign agencies.
“The constitutional democracy we enjoy alongside the personal freedoms it guarantees have to be jealously guarded against rogue intelligence elements trying to instil fear and sow discord among the diverse people of our nation. We urge our government to look into these matters seriously, focusing on lapses in the system so as not to compromise national sovereignty.” VOC (Andriques Che Petersen)