MRN praises Mercedes-Benz swift action
The Media Review Network who this week raised the alarm about an Islamaphobic email forwarded by two employees of Mercedez-Benz SA have expressed their appreciation for the swift manner in which the company responded to the complaint. The matter has been widely covered in the media this on Tuesday, who also reported that the company had suspended two employees over the incident. Speaking to VOC on Tuesday, Ebrahim Vawda of the MRN explained that they first became aware of the email 10 – 12 days ago.
According to Vawda, the email originated from a manager at the company, identified as Frank Booysen. It included a series of photographs which originated as far back as 2004 showing a vehicle driving over the arm of a youth. It was accompanied by text, which Vawda said indicated that the author was “some kind of an evangelist”. The text, written in Afrikaans, read “We are mistaken if we think that evil was rampant or existed only in the past when man was created. The same God who created Adam, is today witnessing the evil, heedlessness and horror of the world.”
“The photographs show a Muslim kid who had stolen from a market somewhere in Iran and as Shariah law punishment, the car was driven over his arm, crushing it. The implication is that this is Shariah law being applied. That is why we felt that it was a matter that had to be taken up, because it will create lots of harm and damage for Muslims at large,” Vawda told VOC’s Drivetime on Tuesday.
He said it was also important for Muslims to understand the background of the photographs. “When these photographs first appeared, a professor at Norwich University in Northfield investigated it and discovered that there was a practise in the Middle East – it could be in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan – where hustlers used this as a means of raising money for themselves. They have a betting game where they gather a crowd and issue a challenge that a car will drive over the arm of a youngster without causing any harm and if people want to see the show, they were expected to pay. What this series of photographs did not show was the final photograph where the youth’s arm was unharmed.”
According to Vawda, “this is part of the propaganda machinery of the Zionists. We know that. There is no truth to this was Shariah law being applied. When we took the matter up with Mercedes-Benz, we expressed our disgust and displeasure, because we felt that these employees were abusing company resources to malign Muslims and Islam. Mercedes-Benz was very accommodating. They went out of their way to investigate and immediately took the necessary action against the perpetrators,” he said, adding that the company needed to be commended on its swift action.
In the letter sent to MRN on Tuesday, president and CEO of the company, Dr Hansgeorg Niefer, wrote: “We have been made aware, that during the course of last week individual staff members from our company sent out emails with content of which members of the Islamic community may take offence. The respective employees acted in a private initiative and illegally abused our company email for this purpose. Mercedes-Benz South Africa has a zero tolerance policy in this regard and we instantly initiated disciplinary action.
“On behalf of Mercedes-Benz South Africa as well as on behalf of Daimler AG in Germany I would like to reiterate our pride in our long successful history and tradition as global multi-cultural and multi-national organisations. In fact, our diversity has always been an integral and elementary contributor to our success. I would like to express my deep and sincere regret for this incident and promise that we will do everything possible to ensure, that something like this does not happen again,” Niefer concluded.
Meanwhile, 50% of those polled online by VOC on Tuesday said that such occurrences of Islamaphobia are generally dealt with quicker in South Africa than elsewhere. But 25% did not believe this to be the case. 16.7% thought that might be true while 8.3% indicated that they did not know. VOC
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