South African Muslims are ridding themselves of apathy and becoming increasingly active in raising awareness on the military bombardment of Gaza. As global condemnation grows against Israel, ordinary South Africans have initiated their own awareness campaigns to show their support for the struggle of Palestinians in Gaza.
On Sunday, a call on social media prompted a huge turn out of demonstrators at Athlone Stadium. Many pro-Palestinian supporters and protesters were seen lining each side of Klipfontein Road with flags and placards in hope of putting pressure on the government to step in and assist those struggling in Gaza and to keep the issue on the national agenda. Some showed their support by wearing the Palestinian colours or wearing the traditional keffiyah. Motorists hooted as protesters waved their flags and chanted slogans calling for Palestinian freedom.
At the same time, a protest rally was also hosted in Lenasia on Sunday, where over 1500 people attended. The event was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Association (PSA) and BDS South Africa and was dubbed the #SAProtestForGaza Rally. Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) secretary general Maulana Abdul Khaliq Allie was there with the coordinator of BDS South Africa Muhammed Desai amongst others. On the promenade of Durban on Sunday, hundreds walked in support of the Palestinians suffering under occupation.
Social networks, especially Twitter, have become one of the most used platforms for providing a larger audience with current information on Gaza. Twitter users can prepare themselves for what has been dubbed a “massive Twitterstorm” at 9pm on Monday night, with a message to the South African government. Anyone who wants to join can follow @MRN1SA for the hashtags which will be used.
Facebook it seems has been mostly used for photos of the latest developments in Gaza. Fatheela Esau from Rondebosch East has a very active Facebook page which she uses to share as much information as she can.
“I post everything I find on the internet and make everyone aware of what is going on as often as I can. This is so that you are not blinded by what the media is showing us or not showing us. We need to know what’s happening to our brothers and sisters in Palestine,” Esau said.
Esau feels that public awareness is very important.
“I’m wearing the Palestinian headbands, black, red, white and green. This is so that everyone can be aware of what is going on. Wear it, show your solidarity everyday when you’re going to masjied, when you’re going to work and wherever you’re going,” Esau adds.
Meanwhile in Cape Town this week, the MJC has organised a mass march for Wednesday 16th July at 11am, with two lunchtime pickets earmarked for Tuesday and Thursday in Wale Street in Bo-Kaap.
The Parow Muslim Community Trust is initiating a collection drive at the Panorama masjid on Friday July 18th during Jumuah. This drive will also take place on Sunday 20th July during a mass iftar. The collection drive is in aid of collecting medical supplies for Gaza. They are hoping to accumulate R100 000 working alongside the Gift of the Givers to cover the basic medical supplies needed in Gaza.
“This is to raise awareness and to raise funds for Gaza. We’re trying to do our bit,” said the committee’s chairman Mubeen Sungay.
For more information about the collection drive, do get in touch with Mubeen Sungay via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. VOC (Shanaaz Abrahams)