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Ulema break silence on UUCSA debacle

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The secetary general of the United Ulema Council of South Africa (UUCSA), has noted his shock at learning of a bid by various groups to ‘hijack’ the organizations name. Speaking during a national live panel discussion hosted by Radio Islam, Maulana Yusuf Patel questioned whether those impersonating UUCSA, were seeking to cause confusion and division amongst the Muslim community.

Having launched in 1994, the organisation has been using the UUCSA name uncontested for 20 years. But having failed to register their name with the Registrar of Trademarks upon their launch, UUCSA suddenly came under threat in 2013, when the name was usurped by a group headed by Maulana A.S Desai. UUCSA has accused the ‘fraudulent’ groups of attempting to expand the voice of extremism, by issuing a host of controversial statements in UUCSA’s name.

The panel discussion centered around a recent press release titled “A petty squabble over a name?” in which UUCSA attempted to dissect the situation. The discussion was headed by Radio Islam programmes manager, Sulaimaan Ravat, and featured a number of UCCSA representatives. Ml A.S Desai refused the invitation to take part in the discussion.

According to Patel, his organization received a letter on the 27th May 2013, warning them to desist from using the name, as it had legally been trademarked. He said that they were further cautioned from ‘masquerading’ under the UUCSA banner. Desai subsequently came out to admit that he had been behind the registration of the name.

“One is constrained to ask that, is this unauthorized use of our name a desperate attempt to piggyback on the goodwill and reputation generated by our name? Is it simply an attempt to create confusion in the ranks of the Muslim community?” he questioned.

He said it was astounding that despite Desai’s stated position against the permissibility of copy rights and all forms of Western law, he still found it permissible to register the name legally registered.

In recent months, a similar ‘fraudulent’ UUCSA group has emerged, with a physical address claiming that it is situated in Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng. This new UUCSA were now sending out public statements, which were clearly in contradiction to the original body’s state positions.

“To add insult to injury, this Vanderbijlpark entity attempted to deceive the public into believing that UUCSA had backtracked in its announcement of the Eid ul-Fitr moon,” he said.

In the case of Desai’s usurping of the name, Patel said he had justified it by claiming that UCCSA was actually formed by senior Ulema in 1989, and he had been appointed the organizations secretary.

“What is strange is that the evidence the Maulana tenders in support of his claim to the name UUCSA, is the same he used when he previously led claim to the name Jamiatul Ulema of SA,” he suggested.

He said this raised questions as to why the senior ulema would appoint him secretary of both organizations. Furthermore, he said it would not explain why those very Ulema were involved in the formation of UUCSA in 1994.

“It is not conceivable that they would participate in UUCSA meetings, knowing full well that a similar body already existed way back in 1989,” he said.

UUCSA has since responded to the trademark of the group’s name, by launching an application to have that ruling overturned. Desai has in turn demanded that UUCSA put down R100 000 as security to cover his legal costs, should they lose the case. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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