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Islam hate suit hits technical snag

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By Juggie Naran

Lawyers for top Pretoria academic Hussein Solomon, being sued for allegedly defaming Muslim religious schools, have put the applicants on notice that they intend to "take exception" to the legal papers before court.

"Taking exception" is a legal term meaning the papers are "vague and embarrassing" or lack information required to defend the claim.

In this case, Solomon’s lawyers allege that no link has been made between the Association of Islamic Madrassahs or its affiliates to the alleged defamatory statements.

In a speech at the seventh conference of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya in Israel in September, Solomon, a professor at the University of Pretoria, said Muslim organisations were being used for military training and were a breeding ground for terrorism.

According to papers lodged by the association's lawyer, Zehir Omar, the speech, or extracts of the speech, were "wrongful and defamatory".

"The speech, as a whole, is Islamophobic; it advocates hate towards Muslim educational institutions, such as the association and its members . . . linked with terrorism, either as terrorists or supporters of terrorism," said the association.

The original papers quoted extracts of Solomon's address. "I think you also have a situation where you have various Muslim organisations, mosques and madrassas and Muslim media, which is sort of psychologically preparing Muslims for terrorism, martyrdom operations. There is a siege mentality being created – 'they're out to get us, so we'd better get them first' . . . military training is occurring at various Muslim high schools . . . ," the transcript read. However, according to the counsel acting for Solomon, JH Stroh SC, in every defamation action the applicant must allege that the defamatory words published concerned the complainant or its members.

"In the premises, the alleged defamatory statements, as pleaded, are not reasonably capable of conveying to the reasonable reader that it refers to the plaintiff or any of its alleged member organisations," said Stroh.

Omar said he would be filing papers in response to the exception next week.

Published on the web by Sunday Tribune on June 29, 2008. ——————————————————————————–© Sunday Tribune 2008. All rights reserved.