S Africans decry threats to al-Aqsa

Thousands of protesters in Cape Town have called on the South African government to suspend all ties with Israel.

    Deputy Foreign Minister, Aziz Pahad (L) received the memo

    The call on Wednesday came in the wake of renewed attempts by Jewish groups to destroy one of Islam's most revered Mosques, the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.


    Denouncing the "violation of the Haram al-Sharif Noble sanctuary)", the demonstrators alleged that extremist Jewish groups continued to demand the mosque be razed and a Jewish temple be built in its place, claiming it was the original site of the temple of Solomon


    Organised by an affiliation of Muslim organisations in South Africa, the protests through the streets of Cape Town, ended in a memorandum being handed over to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, Aziz Pahad.

    "I can ensure you your government is totally committed to the just cause of the Palestinians and we will continue doing everything to ensure that the Palestinian cause is successful," Pahad said. 

    Fighting talk 


    Protest organisers noted South Africa's own historical struggle against racist oppression and apartheid.

    Organisers said they "believed the country has a unique moral responsibility to move beyond mere condemnation of Israeli war crimes, by leading an international campaign to isolate Israel".

    "We will be committed until al-Aqsa is liberated. Not only al-Aqsa, but the entire occupied land"

    Shaikh Thafir Najaar,
    Islamic Council of South Africa

    Shaikh Thafir Najaar, president of the Islamic Council of Southern Africa, warned Israeli premier Ariel Sharon "to get ready" as "we are coming".

    "We will be committed until al-Aqsa is liberated", Najaar added. "Not only al-Aqsa, but the entire occupied land." 

    The four-page memorandum included several demands, including that the SA government recall its ambassador to Israel, shut down the Israeli embassy in South Africa, and initiate a campaign to impose sanctions against Israel.


    US condemned


    The US administration also came under severe criticism, with the memorandum stating that Washington has "shielded Israel and allowed, encouraged and financed Israeli tyranny and pogroms against the Palestinians".

    "We believe the country [SA government] has a unique moral responsibility to move beyond mere condemnation of Israeli war crimes, by leading an international campaign to isolate Israel"

    Memorandum handed to SA government by Muslim organisations

    The US was also condemned in the memorandum for "repeatedly using its veto power in the UN Security Council unfairly and unjustly, thereby undermining hundreds of UN Resolutions condemning Israel".


    "Therefore we regard the government of the USA equally culpable in the criminal activities," the memorandum added.


    Pahad, who, earlier on Wednesday returned from a fact-finding mission to Palestine, accepted the memorandum from protest organisers, amid shouts of "Allahu Akbar" (God is the Greatest).


    This is not the first protest of its kind to the gates of the South African parliament.

    The country's estimated 2.5 million Muslim population has actively been campaigning for "the liberation of al-Quds".

    That determination was repeated by speaker after speaker who addressed the protesters.

    Arms exports


    The protesters included women and children. Imam Ahmad Qasim of the Islamic Unity Convention, said the protesting children represented the youth of Palestine who "if they are old enough to be killed, are old enough to fight".


    Qasim also referred to recent reports of US soldiers at the Guantanamo Bay military base in Cuba desecrating the Muslim scripture. "You can desecrate our Qurans,"Qasim said, "but you cannot erase the Quran from our hearts and minds".


    SA government was called on to
    supend all Israeli arms deals

    The memorandum also called on the South African government to suspend all arms export to Israel and facilitate appropriate legal measures to have Sharon "prosecuted and punished as a war criminal".

    The government has also been called upon to "unconditionally support the intifada (uprising) which is a legitimate freedom struggle under international law".


    The South African Jewish Board of Deputies refused to accept a similar memorandum, said the protest organisers, who included the Muslim Judicial Council, the Islamic Unity Convention, United Ulama Council of South Africa, the Anti-War Coalition and the Salah al-Din Movement.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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