Open letter to South African home affairs minister
Source: CAGE Africa, 18/11/2016
Dear Honorable Minister Malusi Gigaba,
We note with concern your pronouncements reported by Reuters news
agency on Friday, 11 November stating that there are militant
"sleeper" cells in South Africa. We note that you have not provided
any proof to justify your statements, and have alluded to increased
securitisation and surveillance of Muslim communities as a result.
We also note the positive relationship that has existed so far between
Muslim communities and the South African government and security
services. We are concerned that this relationship be maintained.
However, as an organisation dedicated to campaigning for the rights of
communities impacted by the War on Terror, we have found that such
statements and the consequent securitisation of communities have a
detrimental effect, not only on national unity – by fostering an
unfounded fear and hatred of Islam – but also on Muslims themselves,
especially the youth.
We have found through our work that Muslims, especially young Muslims,
who feel increasingly under the eye of the security services, are more
likely to self censor themselves on issues such as Palestinian
activism and the current horrific situation in Syria.
Left with no legitimate space to vent their feelings, they can resort
to searching for other alternatives, which can be dangerous. In short,
securitization and surveillance of communities, is divisive, as is the
banning or criminalisation of organisations. It leads to alienation
and anger, which leads to a greater propensity for violence. This
trajectory is surely familiar to you given the history of the ANC in
Moreover, on the global stage, vague definitions of "terrorism" also
mean that legitimate dissent from the mainstream is criminalised.
What is and isn`t terrorism is subjective and open to
manipulation, especially by foreign powers. This is surely a familiar
state of affairs to you as well.
You mentioned that you did not want South Africa being dragged into
other people`s battles. Adopting the current US approach, which casts
Muslims as a threat, is surely doing just this.
It is important for our sovereignty and the independence of the
constitution, that the government resists any pressure from outside
the country, to play ball in the US led global campaign, that is the
`War on Terror`.
Finally, we invite you to visit a mosque or talk to respected Muslim
groups, in order to build and further a constructive dialogue with the
community of Islam.