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‘Muslims must support Christian protest over school art work’ – Moulana Salim Kareem

Maulana Salim Kareem says Curro school’s display insulting to Jesus must be condemned

Muslims must stand by Christians in the country who are outraged at an upmarket  Curro school’s depiction of Nabi Isa alayi salaam as clown.

Respected scholar Maulana Salim Kareem made the call Wednesday morning after a parent at the school, Pastor Andrew Anderson posted an emotional video of the artwork.

Anderson says in the video he’d arrived at the school, Grantleigh in Richards Bay, for a pize giving and was shocked to see the artwork on display at the entrance.

Choking back his tears, Anderson says: “It felt like we were crucifying Jesus all over again.”

He felt doubly offended as the ostensibly Christian school whose motto is “To God be the glory” would host the art display at its entrance, just meters away from the motto.

He’s calling for a protest over the work and Maulana Kareem says Muslim must support the call as they are obliged to defend all of God’s true prophets.

Although Muslims deny Christian claims about the divinity of Christ (peace be unto him), they do recognise him as a prophet o Allah, they support his virgin birth, his ascension into heaven and that he will return in the end times to kill the Antichrist, known to Muslims as Al-Masih ad-Dajjal, the False Messiah.

Kareem says the rule in Islam is very clear that Muslims must respect other people’s beliefs and to must hold Isa (alayi salaam) in high esteem “so it is the duty of every Muslim to condemn this”.

The alim says it is also upsetting that the artwork was displayed at a school that is supposed to teach children respect and good manners. Given the high emphasis placed on learning in Islam, this amounted to a double affront, Maulana Kareem says.

“This is an educational institution and we are introducing to those innocent minds to such material at the entrance of the school. It’s demonic, it is Satanic.”

He says the school’s officials, teachers and principal need to be taken to task by government and wider society.

“A school is supposed to mould a child, but instead it  is promoting such sadistic, horrible, devilish behaviour. It  should be condemned at the highest levels.

“We all should condemn and put a stop to it so no other school will do such things,” Maulana Kareem says.

Muslims are instructed by the Prophet Muhammad (peace and salutations be on him) to ask God Most High for beneficial knowledge, but the school’s art display doesn’t come anywhere near this, he says.

“How can this art educate a child? It’s not educational at all.”

The school said it would not tolerate hate speech or anything that could damage the Curro brand.

Curro, the parent company, said it was “cognisant of the allegations made on social media and the matter is currently subject to an internal investigation”.

“Curro reiterates that comments made about the school, the artwork and the learner are not an accurate reflection of our school and the situation referred to, and we reserve the right to withhold comment until the internal investigation has concluded.”

But the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) is also weighing in on the matter.

ACDP leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe pointed out the work included torn up pages from a Bible. The project was “blasphemous and deeply offensive to many Christians,” he said.

“It cannot, in our view, be justified under freedom of artistic creativity, and may well border on hate speech and religious intolerance,” Meshoe said.

Xenophobia – where are our leaders?

By Alameen Templeton

Right2Know outs Ramaphosa, Mashaba and Zwelethini as politicians who have openly fanned the hatred of immigrants that shames South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa and other leading politicians must shoulder responsibility for the ongoing surges in xenophobic violence that has seen shops looted, truck blazing and South Africa’s reputation in tatters.

Fingers have also been pointed at the police who critics say have largely adopted a bystander role as crudely armed mobs rampage through its most prominent cities with near-impunity.

Increasingly, voices are calling for perperators to be punished. As long as people believe they can target foreigners with impunity, the problem is not going to go away, they say.

In the last two weeks, mobs have burned and looted shops in Tshwane and Johannesburg while sporadic attacks against foreign truck drivers have occurred in many parts of the country, most recently on Monday night.

Speaking to Markaz Sahaba, Right2Know campaigner Dale McKinley said Tuesday the violence had exposed “a complete intelligence breakdown in South Africa”, with ordinary police officers unable to do much besides helping with the clean up in the wake of violence.

The organisation says leading politicians need to shoulder the blame for the rising threat of xenophobia in South Africa.

It outed Ramaphosa, Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba and Zulu king Goodwill Zwelethini as primary miscreants.

McKinley said politicians had in the mid-Nineties already started blaming immigrants and refugees for rising crime in the country. This had created a false narrative in ordinary South Africans’ minds that foreigners were to blame for their problems.

Foreigners had been blamed for a host of socials ills confronting the country – depleted healthcare facilities, drug abuse, violent crime, and joblessness.

The police themselves had been repeatedly accused by immigrant organisations of targeting foreigners and refugees for easy bribes. Hawkers in Johannesburg complain the police use regular raids against pavement businesses as a cover for stealing their goods.

Right2Know acknowledges there are many sources of the violence “but it is also clear that statements of outrage and condemnation by state officials at all levels (Cabinet, Parliament, the Gauteng Province, SAPS and Metros) fuelled the actions of ordinary citizens who interpreted those statements to be licence to take the law into their own hands. 

“Senior political leaders find an easy target in the vulnerable Africans seeking to make a new home in South Africa. 

“Indeed, there is a dangerous emerging trend of xenophobic populism that leads to attacks on foreign nationals. In 2015, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s speech, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2019 election campaign pronouncements, the Minister of Health’s comments on the strain placed on health services by foreign migrants, and the xenophobic blaming for Johannesburg’s ill by Mayor Herman Mashaba have been followed by xenophobic attacks in different localities.

“In all these instances, even when not responding to a direct call, political populism is used as justification by instigators and perpetrators who would have been waiting for an opportunity to strike for their own reasons,” Right2Know says.

It described this weekend’s Jeppestown and Turffontein violence as a hate crime.

“These actions – which are criminal in nature – when combined with the targeting of the victims as belonging to a certain group, becomes a hate crime.

“Apartheid was the experience of being stateless and homeless within one’s home country. Today, we find South Africans showing the same hatred towards fellow Africans that we ourselves suffered not too long ago.

“As hosts of the World Conference Against Racism in 2001, we recognised xenophobia (and the local Afrophobia) as expressions of racism; in 2008 we experienced how the deep roots of internalised oppression enabled us to turn our own experience of racism and oppression into actions that discriminated against, targeted and in some cases killed other Africans living in South Africa. 

“It is an issue of national shame that xenophobic violence has become a regular and highly visible feature of South Africa’s political landscape. Outsiders have been regularly attacked, killed and their livelihoods destroyed since the dawn of democracy in 1994.”

Speaking to Markaz Sahaba, independent political analyst Ralph Mathekga said the national crisis had deep-rooted origins that could not be addressed by “the securitisation of xenophobia”.

Throwing police and soldiers at the problem would not solve matters, he said.

“Socio-economic problems cannot be solved by police and soldiers; they need socio-economic fixes and that you will find only in wider community fora, including religious and community leaders, business organisations and politicians, he said.

McKinley said research showed interventions to address xenophobia had failed “largely because of the state’s denialism”. Ramaphosa is on record as recently as two months ago denying there was any xenophobia in South Africa.

Right2Know says a combination of a lack of political will and impunity all encourage perpetrators to strike whenever it suits their interests.

Economy surprises with massive 3.1% rebound

By Alameen Templeton

South Africa shrugs off the doldrums as GDP takes off

South Africa stumped all the doomsayers in the second quarter with official figures showing the economy grew a healthy 3.1% in the three months to end-June, Stats SA said Tuesday. 

That beat most economists’ forecasts; they had expected a cumulative 2.4% rise.

But the good news has not tempered expectations of a rate cut at the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy committee meeting on September 17 to 19. The shock R2.88billion trade deficit for July continues to eat into confidence levels.

Warning lights had been flashing after the economy  shrank in the first quarter. A second, consecutive quarter of negative growth would have plunged South Africa into official recession.

But the first three months of the year saw more than 270 hours of load shedding, low investment levels, a five-month gold mining strike at Sibanye mines and a weak grape harvest. 

But Q2 data out today shows the mining sector has rebounded with growth of 14.4% – contributing a full percentage point to GDP.

The end of the Sibanye strike helped, but mining was boosted by a major rally in metal prices, particularly gold. Bullion is at its highest level in six years, while platinum leaped from below $800/oz in June to above $930.

Finance, real estate and business services rose 4.1%. Trade, catering and accommodation increased 3.9% and general government services grew 3.4%.

But the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector continued to shrink and, in the second quarter, was 4.2% smaller. Construction was down 1.6%.

Still, the economy was only 0.9% bigger in the second quarter of 2019 than a year before.  Stats SA revised the first-quarter GDP number down from -3.2% to -3.1%. 

The outlook remains bleak. Investment levels are moribund, and businesses are struggling. Purchasing managers data show weaker private sector activity with a grim outlook.

In July, the committee cut the benchmark repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.5% from 6.75% – the first cut since March 2018.

That was strictly in line with the US Fed. The South African Reserve Bank has been foreshadowing America’s interest rate movements in order to continue attracting carry trade portfolio flows into the JSE.

That boosts our trade numbers and prevents a slide into deficit and a consequent run on the rand.

‘A hamburger and my brother’

By Alameen Templeton

Kidnap victim Amy-Lee de Jager had her six-year-old girl priorities intact when she reappeared unexpectedly last night just hours after her shocking abduction.

Six-year-old kidnap victim Amy-Lee de Jager wanted just two things – a burger and her brother – when she was returned suddenly to her parents on Tuesday night.

Her abductors had dropped her off at a shopping centre close to the Vanderbijl Park police station at around 2am. They had pointed to a blue car and said it was her mothers and she must wait close by.

But her six-year-old instincts would have none of it. She was refusing to accept anything her abductors said. She wouldn’t eat the food they offered. She wouldn’t drink their water.

She small-girl stubbornness seemed to have worn them down.

They’d pulled their car into the shopping centre, it would appear, to simply get rid of her. They gave her R4 and told her to go across the road to buy some food and cold drink. But, when she refused to do that too, and crossly told them that the blue car was not her mother’s, it seemed their final reserves of patience failed and they fled into the night.

So Amy Lee did what any six-year-old girl would do in the circumstances. She started screaming.

That attracted the attention of a couple walking past. When they found out her circumstances, they ran with her to the police station as they did not own a car.

Amy Lee’s abduction had gripped the nation after she was taken when her mother was dropping her off at school.

Police launched a manhunt while her distraught parents – Wynand and Angeline de Jager – waited at the Vanderbijl Park police station for news.

Angeline’s sister, Louise Horn, said Wynand was on his way out of the police station to grab a breath of fresh air when he saw the couple walking towards him with his daughter in tow.

“He told me there was no way to describe what he felt at that moment,” Horn told News 24.

“The first thing Amy-Lee said was that she wanted a hamburger and her brother. So, they bought some burgers and came straight to my house where her little brother had spent the night,” Horn said.

The little girl was then taken to hospital, but she appeared unharmed, Horn said.

Police liaison officer Vishnu Naidoo said Amy-Lee’s disappearance and sudden reappearance were still under investigation.

Horn said no ransom was paid, although a demand for R2million had been made earlier by her abductors.

While Amy-Lee’s parents still had many questions, they were glad their little girl was home again, Horn added.

Desk kids

Gavin Watson’s Bosasa youth centres may have to close

By Alameen Templeton

Ten Bosasa youth development centres for children awaiting trial or battling behaviour problems may be forced to close following founder Gavin Watson’s sudden death

THE future is bleak for children, many awaiting trial, at 10 Bosasa youth development centres across the country after liquidators stepped in.

The liquidators for the company, now known as African Global Operations (AGO), have sent notices to stop rendering services at the end of October.

The centres house young people with severe behavioural challenges and many are in conflict with the law.

A letter was sent to the centres on 8 August titled: “Notice of termination of the service level agreements – and termination of employment.” It tells centre employees their last day of work will be October 31.

In the letter, liquidator Ralph Lutchman, says the centres have been operating while in liquidation and this has “placed tremendous strain on the business operations” and staff morale.

“We urge you to continue your normal duties in a professional matter until the service is terminated,” Lutchman says.

However, the national social development department says it has returned the letter with a request for a redraft outlining adequate reasons for the “termination”.

Bosasa liquidator, Cloete Murray Friday took charge at the company’s headquarters in Krugersdorp (Mogale).

The Mogale centre was the first and largest secure care centre to be privately managed in South Africa when it opened outside Krugersdorp in 1995.

Bosasa then established centres across the country between 1995 and 2012, aimed at children between the ages of 14 and 17.

An official at the De Aar centre insisted it would remain open despite news reports it would be closed this weekend.

The beleaguered facilities management and security company announced in February it was under voluntary liquidation after FNB said it would close the company’s banking facilities by February 28.

AGO and its directors have been implicated at the state capture commission corruption and bribery in exchange for state contracts.

National social development department spokesperson Lumka Oliphant said the termination letters give the October timeframe without citing reasons.

This led to a meeting between the department, the liquidators and the Master of the High Court.

“An agreement was reached that the liquidator will go back and rewrite the letters including reasons for the early termination or exit. The department is still awaiting the revised letter.”

The liquidators have as yet not commented.

Oliphant said the children remained their priority and any changes would have to be premised on “the understanding that there should be no inconvenience, disruption or compromise to the safety and well-being of the children”.

“There are retrieval plans for each province, however, it is important to note that provinces are at different levels in terms of retrieving the service from the service provider. The plans indicate what will happen when and who is going to take care of the children,” she said.

Western Cape provincial communications head Esther Lewis said the department would take over the Clanwillian and Horizon centres as of November 1.

The provincial department began preparing to take over the provided services in March 2019 after the liquidation was announced.

“This process, including recruitment of staff, is expected to be concluded in October in order to ensure the services being rendered to children in those centres are not disrupted,” Lewis said.

The Gauteng social development department said plans were in place, awaiting approval.

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