Mosques hit by hate crimes

The mosque in Kalk Bay was the second in three days ti be desecrated.

Within three days, two far south mosques have been desecrated.

In the first incident on Saturday night, January 7, a raw pig’s snout was placed in the gate of the Noorul Islam Simon’s Town Mosque.

On Monday night, January 9, blood was splattered inside the Masjidul-Jamiah Kalk Bay Mosque, and its interior was trashed.

Imam at the Kalk Bay mosque, Achmat Sity, said blood was splattered on the pulpit (mimbaar) and that framed scriptures (called rakkams) were torn from the walls.

Whoever did this gained entry to the mosque through a side door.

The acts came on the heels of a rant earlier in the week by Langebaan resident Liam Christian Ferreira who called Muslims “bastards” and called for a mosque to be burnt down.

He was reportedly tired of the Muslim call to prayers. Both Mr Ferreira’s comments and the desecration of the mosques have been broadly condemned by the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), the Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies and Reverend Gordon Richard Oliver of the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has also called for unity in the Western Cape, urging people to stand together and reject those who show intolerance for others religious choices.

The Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies said Jews knew first-hand the dangers of such calls for religious hatred and violence.

“We understand that hateful words may easily lead to violent deeds,” the board said, adding that it was everyone’s responsibility to fight

discrimination and intolerance.

“As the Freedom Charter has stated, South Africa belongs to all who live in it. We will not stand by and allow these values to be undermined in our shared country. These comments once again highlight the need for increased awareness and education on the scourge of hate speech and hate crimes.”

The board urged all South Africans to give their input on the proposed Prevention of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, the deadline for submissions on this is January 31.

A case of crimen injuria has been opened by Simon’s Town SAPS for the incident at the mosque there and Muizenberg police spokesman Captain Stephen Knapp confirmed that they were investigating a case of malicious damage to property following the vandalism at the Kalk Bay mosque.

Moulana Shuaib Appleby of the MJC said: “The person seems to be emulating international trends by Islamophobes using the pig as a symbol to express his hatred of Muslims and their sacred spaces. Why only a half snout is a mystery. But a concern has been expressed that the person has butchered a pig – just to desecrate the sacred space of the Muslims.”

He said he couldn’t be sure if there was a link between the attacks on the mosques and Mr Ferriera’s outburst but he noted that all the incidents had happened in areas where the demographics still reflected the apartheid legacy. Those responsible appeared to have

“no understanding of the history of the community or area.”

Mr Appleby said the mosques had been”getting support from the neighbours” and “there has been no hatred nor animosity amongst the residents”.

The MJC, he said, had been formally constituted in St George’s Cathedral community hall.

“This demonstrates the very essence of our South African identity. The ringing of the church bells, the blowing of the horn in the synagogue, the African traditions in the rituals in the vlei, the sounds of the pentecostal churches, and the melodious sound of the call to prayer are all part of the tapestry of South Africa. It is all part of the authentic South African identity,” he said.

“Our acceptance and respect of religions is when we are no longer offended by its physical presence nor protest against its religious expressions.”

Mr Ferreira later apologised on Facebook and condemned the desecration of the mosques after his comments drew angry responses and threats of legal action.

The MJC has meanwhile called for calm discouraging Mulsims from retaliating.

“It is for this reason we have sought recourse to the Equality Court and South African Human Rights Commission. These Chapter Nine institutions are part of our identity as South Africans. It is part of how we as South Africans ought to deal with any issue we feel has violated our South Africaness.”

He said that Muslims had been living in Simon’s Town for more than a century.

“The mosque bears testimony that there was once a large Muslim population. The presence of the mosque is the only physical presence of South African community before it was destroyed by apartheid,” he said.

Mohammed Carr was at the Kalk Bay mosque on Tuesday January 10 and he condemned the vandalism. “I think people need to take off their international lens when they think of us here. Muslims are as old as Cape Town is, we have been here from the beginning. We are not the terrorists you see on CNN or BBC,” he said.

“I like a T-shirt that I saw some young man wearing the other day. It read ‘It’s OUR problem’ and that is true. Whatever is wrong in this world that we share we can and must fix it; together.”

The case is being investigated by Detective Sergeant Patrick Leaner and anybody with any information is asked to contact him on 021 787 9014.