The article by Shannon Ebrahim in the Star, ‘Africa poses an opportunity for IS’, 03 July 2015 (page 12), requires a response.
On 02 June 2015, ministers from 20 countries assembled in Paris in what was described as a meeting of the coalition to combat the Islamic State (IS). Notable absentees were Syria, Iran and Russia. This was by deliberate design. IS has its roots in the metamorphosis of Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda in the Maghreb, the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Al-Nusra rebels fighting Bashar Al-Assad. The evolution of IS is being used to fuel the Islamophobia narrative around the world and it forms part of the Western imperialist, colonialist and expansionist agenda.
The article by Shannon Ebrahim feeds directly into this narrative. It is based purely on hearsay, is speculative and its allegations are unsubstantiated.
To begin with, the 22 young people from Roshnee, South of Johannesburg, did not influence other South African youngsters to join IS. The episode of the young girl in Cape Town who was taken off a flight to Turkey has as yet not been verified. As for the senior Gauteng government official, I challenge the writer to identify him/her. Also, I would like to meet the young man who had the audacity to threaten his dad.
Her quotation of Moulana Bham to do something meaningful and to change the world is hugely open ended. If Moulana Bham is correctly quoted then I challenge him to explain what he meant.
Ms Ebrahim suggests that South Africans continue to join IS. She then protects herself by saying “the number is less important than the potential for recruitment”. She also mentions that South African doctors, lawyers and engineers have joined IS, without identifying any of these so-called recruits. In terms of journalistic professionalism she is being disingenuous and displays a lack of such journalistic ethics.
Years after the 9/11 attacks, hysteria about Muslims still grips the world. There has been a concerted outburst of attacks on Muslim countries, Mosques and the branding of Muslims as either overwhelmingly moderate or a hotbed of potential terrorist recruits. This campaign of Islamophobia has bought into a sustained chorus of false rumours about Muslims and their faith. This spasm of Anti-Muslim bigotry is expectedly spontaneous. It is the fruits of an organised, long-term campaign by a tight confederation of right-wing activists, who focused on Islamophobia soon after September 11. Hence, the Islamophobia industry in the West.
It is unfortunate that this article by Ms Shannon Ebrahim is creating a mountain out of a mole-hill. Creating a hype where none exists. We must stand firm and not allow our country and the continent to develop a culture of intolerance. It is disheartening if we allow our continent to be influenced by the forces of narrow-mindedness, prejudice and hate.
Senior Researcher, Media Review Network