(source: VOCfm Online)
A decision by the South African government to deport an El Al security official for overstepping their bounds has been hailed by the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) and Media Review Network (MRN). The two organisations have for the last two years been waging a battle to have action taken against the airline’s security officials who have notoriously been responsible for racial profiling and interrogating South African citizens who were trying to get to Palestine. Malick said the "bold" move showed political will and determination that no other government – who have faced similar challenges – have been willing to show.
"We must congratulate the SA government who have shown real political will and determination, because this is a global phenomenon where Israel has been violating rights of many international airlines for many years. For example, there have been many complaints from Muslims travelling through New York, Paris, Vienna and Geneva specifically. None of those complaints were dealt with by those airlines or their governments. So alhamdulilah, as South Africans we can be proud that our country has taken the lead and shown that we won’t tolerate such violation against our citizen."
According to Malick, El Al's security personnel operate at the OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg, but have no right under South African law to search or interrogate passengers. "They have abused that particular right really harshly, to the extent that they interrogate passengers regarding their travel arrangements, people sitting at restaurants. The MRN and MJC have been investigating this for 2 – 3 years."
She said numerous complaints were forwarded and followed up by meeting with the relevant stakeholders. "But what really helped our cause was when M-net's Carte Blanche exposed this whole mess and gave credence to our complaints. That is why SA took strong action to deport one of the security guards working for El Al."
She urged South African passengers to take note that no one except the SAPS, armed forces or a delegation sent by the Transport ministry is allowed to interrogate them at SA airports. "We must remember that these El Al security guards do not work for the National Intelligence Agency, but are in fact undercover Israeli security agents. Their job is to interrogate people who they regard as their immediate threats – mainly Muslim males, females and black. As such, they do extensive ethnic and racial profiling. So they are a very sinister force and have been operating in this capacity for more than 10 years."
The matter came to public attention when another security guard for El Al, Jonathan Garb, revealed Israeli airline' security methods to a prestigious South African investigative television program. Among others, he claimed that he had helped to profile about 40,000 people. "We classify people on a racist, ethnic and even religious basis," he claimed. Garb said that during his training he had been sent to Israel for advanced studies and was hired by the Israeli security services. "We trained with weapons at a secret base where the special Israeli forces train. We used guns and submachine guns in face-to-face combat."
At present, an Israeli delegation is in South Africa in the hope of resolving the crisis. The airline has also been informed that alternate arrangements had to be made for their security personnel by the end of the month or they would also be deported. "I doubt that they had expected South Africa to take such a step. But they must know their place. We won't allow them to behave with impunity here as we have seen them do at New York, Vienna and other places. They got away with it for a long time. But we will keep up the pressure," Malick vowed. VOC
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