By Zohra Mohammed Teke

(source: Daily News, 18 May 2010)

South African Muslims will not allow al-Qaeda or any other terrorist group to turn this country’s World Cup into their political battlefield, warns the country’s top Muslim representative body, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC).

The warning from the body’s national president, Moulana Ighsan Hendricks, comes amid reports of the arrest of a 30-year-old Saudi army officer and al-Qaeda operative in Iraq, for allegedly planning attacks on South Africa’s World Cup next month. Welcoming the arrest, Hendricks has lashed out at the planned attacks, saying al-Qaeda was a terrorist organisation that did not have the support of the vast majority of Muslims in South Africa.

"SA Muslims are South Africans, we were born here, we have fought very hard against apartheid to attain democracy in this country, and our responsibility is to protect South Africa. "We will not allow anyone, be it al-Qaeda, a Palestinian, an Iraqi, a Pakistani, or even a verkrampte Boer, to destroy the peaceful existence in which we have been living with our fellow South Africans."We are days away from the World Cup, and we cannot allow any terrorist group, including al-Qaeda, to bring its war into our country," Hendricks told the Daily News. Azzam al-Qahtani, whose surname is prominent among wealthy Saudis, with links to the construction and corporate world, has allegedly been in contact with al-Qaeda's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, two weeks ago, as part of his briefing on the planned attacks on South Africa's World Cup event. Reports suggest Al-Qahtani was involved in the planning of attacks in Iraq which claimed the lives of 127 people last December, and about 36 victims earlier this year. He was also arrested by the US military in Iraq in 2007, but later released. Vish Naidoo, a spokesman for the South African police, said that Iraqi security officials had not contacted their South African counterparts about the suspected plot. Naidoo said the report from Baghdad would not affect World Cup security planning because terrorism had always been part of the calculations. Recently, National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele announced that the country was ready for the World Cup, with around 190 000 police officers trained to cope with the 300 000 or more foreign visitors expected to flock to the country next month.Fifa reported last month that it was aware of al-Qaeda threats on the World Cup, particularly the match between England and the US, due to be played in Cape Town. According to Sapa-AP, Interpol secretary-general Ronald Noble has praised South Africa's preparations for the World Cup, which have included seeking training from other countries. Interpol, the agency formed to help police around the world work better together, is sending 200 experts, while each of the 31 visiting teams will be sending up to eight officers to work with the South African police.

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.