As Islamaphobia continues to grow internationally, a recent terror alert has sparked concern within the South African Muslim community who fear that Islamaphobia may spread within the country. The terror alert, which was issued by the United States and United Kingdom Governments, alleged that malls within the country will be targeted by terrorist groups during the month of Ramadan. But according to CAGE SA the recent warnings are nothing more than an attempt to pressurize the South African government to increase securitization and surveillance of Muslim communities.
CAGE advocates for the rights of communities impacted by the War on Terror, due process, the principle of the rule of law, and the use of dialogue as means of ending the War on Terror.
On Wednesday, it emerged that the source of the alleged threat was from a tip-off from an East African businessman, said to be a discredited informant for the United States intelligence services. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation released a scathing statement on Wednesday‚ in which it accused the US of attempting to manipulate South Africa’s counter terrorism work by using an alert which was based on “sketchy” information.
Co-ordinator of CAGE Africa, Karen Jayes, told VOC Drivetime that the reports were “extremely concerning”.
“It means that a great deal of suspense and antagonism towards Muslims is being created out of evidence that is in a sense corrupt,” Jayes said.
She said that while Muslims constantly face suspicion, within the Muslim community, the terror alert has created suspicion against the Nigeria and Somali communities, due to alleged Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab ties.
While most Somali’s have fled to South Africa in fear of insurgent groups, Jayes confirmed that allegations of relationships between Somali and Nigerians communities in South Africa with extremist groups have not been verified.
“The Somali Association of South Africa has been extremely cooperative with government, and they have rubbished these claims, but their voice does not seem to get heard in the main stream media.”
She added that such assertions create suspicion that result in increased division within the Muslim community.
Jayes further noted that the counter terrorism measures, which the United Nations has pressured South Africa to adopt, has consequently created barriers for the South African Somali community to send money to their families back home.
“Some of the money sending services has been banned because they are said to be funding terrorism, but none of this has been proven in a court of law when making allegations that have such serious repercussions on communities.”
In light of the terror threats doing the rounds on social media and the increased global Islamaphobia, Jayes encouraged South Africans to adopt a united approach and to demand proof of such assertions.
“The South African government has a good relationship with Muslim communities and leaders, and threat warnings such as this, based on flimsy and corrupt ‘evidence’, are divisive in the current toxic global climate.”