Frustrated with having to defend Muslims and Islam in the wake of a brutal terror campaign by the Islamic State (IS), a group of South Africans are planning an interfaith demonstration calling for peace and justice. Faithworks, a network of South African Muslims, will host an interfaith vigil for people who have lost their lives, homes and dignity through the actions of the Islamic State in Iraq and Boko Haram in Nigeria.
“Muslims in South Africa want to add our voice to many around the world that have condemned the violence of organisations that claim to represent us,” says coordinator Safiyyah Surtee.
“These are organisations that claim to represent Islam, but who act in a way that is contrary to Islamic values and teachings. We want to speak out against the hijacking and misrepresentation of Islam’s teachings. We, as Muslims, stand for justice; against violence and terrorism perpetrated in the name of our religion.”
Thousands of minority groups in northern Iraq have been forced to leave their homes, which human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have called “ethnic cleansing”. Survivors of massacres told Amnesty that in the northern Sinjar region, scores of men and boys — some as young as 12 — from Iraq’s Yazidi minority were rounded up, taken to the outskirts of villages and shot dead by Islamic State militants. Meanwhile, Yazidi women and children, possibly numbering in the thousands, were abducted by the group.
Surtee urged Muslims to stand in solidarity with the minority communities suffering as a result of atrocities committed by these IS and other groups.
The vigil will take place on Sunday, 14th September 2014 at 3.30pm at the Kidney Amphitheatre at Constitution Hill in Braamfontein.
Speakers on the day include Foundation for Human Rights executive director Yasmin Sooka, political analyst Steven Friedman and Afro-Middle East Centre director Na’eem Jeenah. Leaders representing different religions will attend.
Organisations that have recently condemned the atrocities committed by the Islamic State include the Jamiatul Ulama of South Africa, the Muslim Judicial Council, Sunni Ulama Council and the Muslim Youth Movement.
Individuals that have supported the campaign include Ahmed Kathrada, Enver Surty, Zak Yacoob and Iraqi ambassador to SA Dr Hisham Al-Alawi.
Faithworks is a network of South African Muslim women committed to the Qu’ranic ideals of justice and compassion. The group is a study circle for Muslim women, operating since 2008, providing educational and spiritual support for each other.
The organisation has launched an online petition which has garnered over a thousand signatures. The petition can be found at https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/south-african-muslims-reject-violence-in-the-name-of-islam. VOC