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MJC honours heroes of the struggle PDF  | Print |  E-mail

It was a day of tears and laughter as former activists, religious leaders and civil society organisations within the Muslim community gathered to pay tribute to those who persevered in bringing down apartheid. More than 500 Muslims attended the Muslim Judical Council’s (MJC) Khatamal Quran programme at the St. Athens Road masjid in Athlone on Sunday, in commemoration of those who lost their lives in the struggle and those who continue to fight for equality.

The initiative forms part of the 100th anniversary celebration of the African National Congress (ANC), and is one of many events being held around the country. “We are honoured to be standing here today as a Muslim ummah, remembering all Muslim brothers and sisters who has fought for us in the struggle. Because of them we are standing here today,” said Sheik Abdul Gamiet Gabier, president of the United Ulema Council of SA (UUCSA).

"As Muslims living in South Africa, we should be proud knowing that our people have made the Muslim community one of the strongest in the world.” Gabier said citizens living in South Africa should live up to the non-racial values and ideals fought for during apartheid. Seventeen years after democracy, racism was still very much alive, he added.

Retired judge and activist Dr Essa Moosa remembered his days in the struggle, citing the significant role played by Muslim political activists. The organisers of the event also showcased various photos of political leaders, activists and community members who were at the coalface of the anti-apartheid movement. “This is not just a tribute to the Muslim community and to those who fought in this struggle, but also looking back on our history to the very first Muslims who rocked up on the shores of Cape Town and to those who made it possible for us to be standing here freely today.” Moosa also paid tribute to Imam Abdullah Haron who was killed in police detention as well as Toufeeq Damon, a taxi driver who was banned and imprisoned during the apartheid era.

MJC president Maulana Igsaan Hendricks stirred the crowd with his powerful speech, urging the Muslim community to draw on the lessons of the past. “If we look in our communities today, there are many people who are not living up to what these people have fought for. We still very much find racism and there are still groups in our community who are practising it. We do not want our history to be forgotten and shunned by the new generation. We as Muslims should unite and appreciate our people and country.”

Hendricks said they will continue to implore for the freedom of Palestinians and believe that one day they too will achieve sovereignty. “There are many countries still fighting for freedom and here many of our youth and adults don’t appreciate their independence. If they could just imagine and put themselves in the shoes of these people who are struggling.”

Hendricks took the audience on a trip down memory lane to the humble beginnings of the MJC during 1945, exploring the ulema body’s contribution to the fight against oppression. While the event served to recollect the events of the past, it was also an opportunity for old friends and comrades to reunite. All those who attended were also treated to lunch after the programme concluded.

Meanwhile, the MJC will host a public meeting on Wednesday 29 February at the Rylands Civic Centre where they will be inviting members of the ANC,  as well as honour women who actively resisted against apartheid. VOC (Aishah Cassiem)

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