The United Nations (UN) has called the Rohingya of Myanmar one of the world’s most persecuted ethnic minorities. Gross human rights violations of the Rohingya have been recorded since 1978.
The state sanctioned violence against them is symptomatic of a long and oppressive history of discrimination by the Myanmar government which has labelled the Rohingya illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. They are thus rendered stateless despite their presence in Myanmar going back many generations.
They are despised by most of the Buddhist majority and are denied basic rights such as citizenship, education, the freedom of movement, employment, the right to own property and marry without state permission. They are also subjected to forced sterilisation and forced labour.
The brutal persecution in Myanmar has forced the Rohingya to flee in droves as “boat people”, risking their lives on rickety boats on the open seas in order to seek a better life making them easy prey for human traffickers.
The discrimination against the Rohingya has been further reinforced by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) governments who have, for the most part, remained silent about their fate. Neighbouring countries have blatantly participated in push-backs of Rohingya boats which was a contributing factor to the current humanitarian catastrophe. In the past three months, alone, more than 25,000 Rohingya have left Burma by sea, more than double the amount during the same period last year.
Despite the efforts by various countries over the past week to find solutions to the Rohingya crisis which left 8000 Rohingya adrift on the Andaman seas, humanitarian aid is urgently required.
The following organizations have joined the appeal to protect the Rohingya: Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA), Media Review Network (MRN),Muslim Students Association (MSA), Cage Africa Ogaden Community Makopa Foundation BDS South Africa
We appeal to all South Africans to open their hearts and to contribute towards this worthy cause.
All contributions and donations are welcome and can be made into the following account. Bank Details –
Various Muslim organisations (See
list below) and scholars from across South Africa met recently to discuss the
problem posed by the attraction of the Islamic State group among some South
African Muslims. The representatives expressed concern about information
gleaned from within the Muslim community about growing sympathy for ISIS among
some South African Muslims, and reports received that more South Africans have
left for Syria since news of the 16-old Cape Town girl broke early April.
The meeting discussed a number of
steps that Muslim community leadership are taking and will take in order to
address this attraction and engage with the spurious discourse of ISIS which it
claims is based on Islam.
This Friday, 29 May, imams in mosques
across the country will deliver a ‘national unified’ khutbah (sermon) about
ISIS, that will encourage Muslims to be wary of recruitment activities of the
group in South Africa.
Recounting the history of Islam in
South Africa, the sacrifices that Muslims made to ensure that Islam and Muslims
become part of the South African social fabric, the role of Muslims in the
anti-apartheid struggle, and ‘the South African culture of peaceful
coexistence’, the khutbah says South African Muslims ‘have much to be grateful
for and for which to celebrate the praises of God’. However, it warns, this
gratitude is meaningless if ‘some individuals within our community affiliate
themselves with such groups or persons that would jeopardise the freedoms that
South Africans enjoy’.
While the khutbah acknowledges that
‘millions of Muslims across the globe are experiencing occupation and other
kinds of oppression’, and expresses support for the ‘continuous struggle and
jihad against unjust occupation’ by the Palestinian and other people, it calls
for a response that is consistent with the spirit and values of Islam. The
sermon calls for ‘aggression [against Muslims] to cease’, and suggests that
‘the chances for justice are better when there is peace, not war’.
The khutbah informs the Muslim
community that there have recently been ‘individuals from our community who
have joined or attempted to join ISIS’. However, it asserts, ‘The vast majority
of Muslim scholars around the world have clearly condemned ISIS and have
categorically stated that it does not represent Islam or the Shariah.’
From an Islamic perspective, the
khutbah argues, ‘it is unlawful for anyone to join [ISIS]’, saying the group
engages in ‘criminal activities’ and ‘sheds people’s blood’ unlawfully, ‘labels
Muslims as disbelievers, violates people’s honour and usurps their
properties... and creates corruption on earth’. Islam, it says, ‘calls for
mercy, love, and rejection of terrorism and extremism, which represent envy,
rancour, and hatred.’ On behalf of the organisations that issued the khutbah,
it ‘advise[s] people not to be deceived by false slogans and calls of such
A spokesperson for the group of
organisations and scholars said that there was serious concern within the
community, and that there are families ‘whose lives have been made miserable,
whose elders have become haggard and distressed’ because of the intention of
family members to join ISIS. Some South African Muslims that have gone to Iraq
and Syria went to fight with ISIS, while others emigrated to live in territory
controlled by the group, he said. He added that there was much legitimate anger
in the Muslim community about the actions of the United States and other
western powers in the region, in their support of Israel, supporting the
Egyptian coup government, the occupation of Iraq, and generally supporting
dictators in the region.
‘As South Africans, we will work with
other institutions within South African society – such as government, the media
and community organisations – to stem any attraction of South Africans for this
group, or any similar group such as Boko Haram or Al-Shabab. We must be
uncompromising in our rejection of their ideologies and their actions,’ he
For more information, contact:
Ebrahim Patel – 082 442 6959
Suleman Dangor – 031 260-7488
Ihsaan Taliep – 083 447 8608
Thandile Kona – 084 422 9336
Call of Islam
Jamiatul Ulama South Africa
Masjidul Islam, Brixton
Muslim Judicial Council
Muslim Youth Movement of South Africa
South African Muslim Network
Sunni Ulama Council
Union of Muslim Students Associations
United Ulama Council of South Africa
For more information from MSA Union:
071 891 8722 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Aaisha Dadi Patel
Head of Politics and South African & International Affairs