The congregation of Claremont Main Road masjid (CMRM) gathered outside the mosque after Jumuah prayers on Friday to protest the Islamic State (IS). Scores of demonstrators at the multi-cultural picket lined the street to express their solidarity with the thousands of Iraqi and Syrian civilians persecuted by IS. The silent vigil was also supported by the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) and other members of the ulema.
“We are protesting against the atrocities committed by ISIS against innocent civilians, religious minorities, religious scholars and sacred sites,” said the masjid’s imam, Dr Rashied Omar.
Amongst the many picketers was deputy Minister of Home Affairs Fatima Chohan, who reiterated that Islam was not a religion that promotes violence or that devalues human life.
“It is important that we show solidarity for the victims of ISIS that have been killed in the most atrocious ways whether they are Muslim or Christian. Islam is not a religion of violence but one of peace and humanity. It is as if people are hijacking the theology of Islam for their own motives,” she said.
Some demonstrators felt extremist groups like ISIS allow people to create misrepresentations of Islam, which are largely perpetuated by mainstream media.
“We need to say to the people who are perpetrating these crimes that it is not in our name. It is not in the name of Islam,” stated Sheikh Sadullah Khan.
The picketers said they would call on the United Nations (UN) to take measures to bring an immediate stop to the killings of Iraq and Syria and bring to justice all those guilty of human rights violations and war crimes. They insist that the instability seen in countries like Libya, Syria and Iraq due to the emergence of these militant groups like ISIS is a consequence of the US’s foreign policy.
“We appeal for international interventions to create a democratic environment in countries like Libya, Syria and Iraq where the voice of the people is heard,” urged Omar.
“The atrocities committed in the name of Islam are in actual fact an insult to Islam and Muslims. A verse of the Quran states there is no compulsion in Islam,” added MJC secretary general Abdul-Khaliq Allie.
The protest followed a special pre-Jumuah khutbah at the mosque, delivered by academic Omar Shauket from the Afro Middle East Centre in Johannesburg.
After the salah, demonstrators stood holding placards, as motorists passed by during the lunchtime traffic. The women were particularly vocal, pleading that the brutal killing of innocent people be stopped.
“If there is some way I can talk to these people and tell them that they did not create life Allah creates life. They have no right to take a human life,” said Naseegha Taliep.
“We hope to create awareness of what is happening in Iraq. It is not all Muslims who are violent and support ISIS. In Islam every life is sacred and we do not condone violence,” added Ayesha Saban.
“Muslims do not support what ISIS does. It is not in Islam’s name. We do not support the violence and brutality,” says Manam Adams.
“ISIS is trying to represent Islam and it is not representing Islam,” says Hussain Khatieb. VOC (Nailah Cornelissen)