26 August 2008

The Secretary General
Mr. Gwede Mantashe
African National Congress
Luthuli House
Johannesburg.

Sir

The Media Review Network is concerned at the arrest and incarceration of two South Africans, Mufti Hussein Bhayat, a cleric from Lenasia and Mr. Haroon Saley from Azaadville. Both gentlemen represent a charitable organisation, The Crescent of Hope, and have been involved in relief work on the Continent and at home for many years.

On Sunday 17th August 2008, they were returning to South Africa after completing their relief work in Kenya. They were travelling via Kampala, Uganda, and at the stop over at Entebbe Airport they were arrested for alleged terrorist activities, by the Ugandan Authorities. Two Ugandan citizens who came to meet the South Africans were also arrested.

After numerous attempts by the family lawyer for information about the two men from the Department of Foreign Affairs, diplomatic access was eventually secured from the Ugandan Authorities. This took a week to process.

Notwithstanding the fact that we do have a High Commissioner based in Kampala, The Media Review Network is troubled and anxious to note that it took such a prolonged period before the Department of Foreign Affairs could provide positive information about South African Citizens in a foreign country. Unfortunately this has led to a perceived lack of interest as well as negative speculation vis-à-vis the Department of Foreign Affairs. As a desperate measure the family had to obtain the services of legal council in Kampala to assist them 

Sir, the Media Review Network would like your Office to kindly intervene on our behalf with the Department to determine exactly why these gentlemen have been arrested and incarcerated. We do believe that if evidence is available as to their alleged terrorist activities then they should be charged accordingly. If not then the Department, through its High Commissioner, should assist in securing their immediate release so that they are able to return to their home and their loved ones.

The anger and frustration of the Muslim community at this stereotyping and religious profiling is quite understandable. The Muslim Community would be deeply grateful to the African National Congress if you could add your voice to their call for the unconditional release of the two men. The aggravation and annoyance of such arbitrary arrests and harassment only impedes the progress of the humanitarian efforts carried out by these men and their organisation. Your public support for the efforts of these organisations to alleviate poverty and hunger on our Continent will also be highly appreciated.

Thank you,
Iqbal Jassat
Chairman
Media Review Network

 

MRN

Author: MRN Network

The aspiration of the Media Review Network is to dispel the myths and stereotypes about Islam and Muslims and to foster bridges of understanding among the diverse people of our country. The Media Review Network believes that Muslim perspectives on issues impacting on South Africans are a prerequisite to a better appreciation of Islam.