Muslims “sick and tired” of terrorist label

Written Yazeed Kamaldien

Local Muslims are “sick and tired” of being labeled terrorists and reading inaccurate media reports about them.

This follows an apology from the online publication Daily Maverick that it had its facts wrong when it earlier this year accused local Muslims of belonging to terror group al-Qaeda.

Imam Rashied Omar, a Muslim leader in Cape Town, yesterday said the Daily Maverick’s apology last week was a little too late. Omar is a member of the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum that unites various religions for common causes.

“The damage has been done. This is not going to go away. Tomorrow somebody else will publish an Islamophobic article,” said Omar.

“We are sick and tired of it… There is much misunderstanding about Islam. We need to challenge the media. They are not sympathetic to Muslims.”

He added: “Muslims are committed citizens to South Africa.”

Omar said the local Muslim community should demand answers from the government.

“We can take this up formerly with the South African intelligence and government… We need to dig behind this and find out who the intelligence agents were behind this and why they gave the journalist this information,” he said.

The Media Review Network (MRN), which monitors media reporting on a range of issues, said in a statement that it “welcomes the apology made by the editorial team of the Daily Maverick”.

“We note the apology was made to Junaid and Farhad Dockrat and extended to the South African Muslims… The so-called investigation report sought to create the impression that the Dockrat cousins and family members had links with al-Qaeda and were using certain facilities for terror training activities,” said MRN.

“We acknowledge the explanation provided by Branko Brkic (editor of the Daily Maverick) that (De Wet) Potgieter’s analysis was baseless and false. The errors contained in it ought to have alerted Branko’s editorial team about the huge gaping holes in Potgieter’s story.”

Brkic apologised online for factual errors in the article ‘Al-Qaeda: Alive and well in South Africa’ published in May.

“Let me state clearly: I am personally responsible for this failure,” he said.

Potgieter, who claims to have “spent the last 35 years in investigative journalism”, also apologised for his factual errors.

“Could I have been manipulated by my sources for their own purposes? Again, quite conceivable,” he said.
“I was under immense pressure from some of my sources to publish my findings, being led to believe that this would force the hand of the authorities to act on the evidence the operatives said they had provided. These undercover operatives would then be in a stronger position to provide me with more direct evidence.”

He added: “With a benefit of hindsight, should I have submitted the story at this stage of investigation? Definitely not. I was caught up in the twilight realm of a power play in the intelligence world, and I have paid the price.”

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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