Archive | January 2014

Cape Town celebrates birth of Prophet Muhammad

An audio interview with Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille is on my Youtube account at this link:

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Thousands of Muslims are expected to meet in Green Point this weekend to celebrate the birth of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

This global celebration is known in Arabic as Mawlid al-Nabi and organisers of a local gathering, comprising various Muslim groups, said they expected up to 10,000 people to meet at Green Point track for Sunday’s day-time event.

The event’s spokesperson Nabeweya Malick said they intended to “celebrate the life and practice of the Prophet Muhammad through songs of joy, pearls of wisdom and moving odes”. The event’s theme is ‘Mission of Mercy, Message of Love’.

“Its celebrations revive and invigorate one’s sense of connection with the Prophet Muhammad,” said Malick.

Mawlid al-Nabi poster.

Mawlid al-Nabi poster.

The City of Cape Town, which is providing logistical support, is the event partner. The city’s mayor Patricia de Lille said she attended the inaugural mass Mawlid al-Nabi last year.

Former president Kgalema Motlanthe and Western Cape premier Helen Zille also attended last year’s debut mass Mawlid al-Nabi in Green Point.
De Lille said the city government’s support for the event was indicative of Cape Town’s “multi-cultural community”.

“When we grew up and when it’s fasting time the Muslims in street that you live in sent each house a barakat (plate of food or cake). We know about Labarang Hajji (Eid ul-Adha which is an annual celebration marking the holy Hajj pilgrimage),” said De Lille.

“Muslims and Christians grew up side by side… We recognise all religions and culture. This is because of the history of our city. Certainly, one of the pillars of our heritage is the Muslim community.”

De Lille added: “For hundreds of years, Muslims have lived in Cape Town and helped shape this city even in the darkest times for our communities.

“Your steadfast faith, endurance and sense of community helped liberate us from the oppression we knew and continue to help us build the inclusive city we want to enjoy today and that we want to strengthen for our children.”

De Lille also wrote the foreword in a book, Expressing Delight at the Birth of the Light, which outlines arguments for and against Mawlid al-Nabi. It also “clarifies the areas which some may use as justification for their belief or view” with the intent to eliminate confusion on the matter.

The 300-page book is published by the Cape Town-based Madina Institute South Africa and will be launched this weekend.

Fakhruddin Owaisi, who was involved in the book project, said Syrian writer Sheikh Muhammad al-Ninowy who now lives in the US penned the book.

Owaisi said celebrating the prophet’s birthday has “become a controversial issue in some of our communities”.

“Traditional Muslims like the Shafi’is of Cape Town have always celebrated Mawlid al-Nabi. Modern extremist movements such as the Salafi group reject this practice as an innovation and un-Islamic,” said Owaisi.

“Ninowy demonstrates, with full academic prowess, that commemorating the birth of the prophet is permissible in Islam and a beneficial practice, supported by evidences from Qur’an (Islam’s guiding text) and sunnah (lifestyle of the prophet).

“He also proves that the accusation of bidah (innovation) is false and unfounded.”

Muslims community radio station Voice of the Cape conducted a poll among Muslims to reveal whether they supported Mawlid al-Nabi celebrations or not. It found “85% of those who participated felt it should become an annual event, with 12% not in support”.

Malick said Sunday’s public event would also feature “beautiful musical renditions by Islamic cultural choir groups from talented youth from the community”.

“Beyond the confines of the Muslim community, it is undoubtedly a means of drawing the attention of the broader community and will inform about the message of the love that Muslims have for Prophet Muhammad,” said Malick.

Muslims celebrate Prophet Muhammad as their leader and he was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on the 12th day of the Islamic month, Rabi al-Awwal.

More information about this event is available on the website

(This article was published in the Weekend Argus weekly regional newspaper in the Western Cape on January 18 2014)

Fishing quotas under scrutiny

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Fishing companies that were not granted long-term fishing permits last month are prepared to take to the seas illegally to secure their livelihood.

This comes after the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries (DAFF) released on December 30 a list of companies that had been granted and denied fishing permits.

Natural resource management advisers Feike said it “strongly supports the call for all fishers to put their boats to sea as an act of united and mass defiance against this (department’s) unlawful series of decisions”.

Its managing director Shaheen Moolla said the department had “ruined the livelihoods of hundreds of traditional line fishers, tuna pole, hake handline and shark demersal fishers”.

“These fishers have invested millions of Rand, created thousands of jobs, paid their taxes and fish levies to this government, religiously complied with fishing permit conditions and DAFF’s mundane bureaucratic rules only to be denied long-term fishing rights,” said Moolla.

“They are grief stricken. What are they going to do this January? How will bonds be paid? What about school fees, groceries and electricity?”

Moolla said: “Ultimately it will have to be the courts that will have to intervene in this mess.”

DAFF’s director-general Edith Vries said fishing companies that were not granted permits had until early February to appeal against the department’s decision though.

“There are people who are unhappy but there are also people who are happy that they have fishing permits. They should all be aware that we are on their side. There is an appeal process,” said Vries.

“There are people who did not get fishing rights because they did not fish. This has been monitored. They have disqualified themselves because they didn’t utilise their rights. We allocated those quotas to someone else who can make a living.”

Vries said DAFF could only allocate a certain number of permits to protect the ocean’s resources.

“There’s a total allowable catch, based on international research and science, in terms of the availability of the species. The number of permits we have issued is in line with the total allowable catch for those species,” she said.

“We have kept a reserve of permits that we can allocate to persons who are successful in their appeal (against the department’s decision not to grant them a fishing permit).”

Vries said DAFF received 300% more applications than the last time, in 2005, when it granted long-term fishing permits countrywide. The department’s nine-month licensing process concluded on December 30 when it named successful applicants.

“We engaged all along the coastline with fishers and 80% of the persons given fishing rights are small-scale fishers. We are growing the fishing community,” said Vries.

The SA Commercial Line Fish Association meanwhile complained that DAFF’s decision had left “hundreds of fishers and their crew members without a future in the traditional line fishery and with no means of securing an income”.

It said in a statement the department was “being totally unrealistic by replacing rights holders with between 10 to 30 years experience with new entrants”.

“This could have a knock-on effect to the productivity of the sector and possibly result in declining catches which will in turn have a dramatic impact on marketing dynamics.”

Tourists stabbed at Cape Town airport

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

A Bloemfontein family’s holiday in Cape Town ended in bloodshed yesterday when a “mentally disturbed” man attacked them with a knife at Cape Town International Airport.

A man, 61, and his son, 23, were stabbed multiple times. They were receiving medical treatment at Medi Clinic Hospital in Gardens.

The family did not want to be named or have their photographs published but related their story to Cape Times yesterday. They were on holiday in Cape Town.

“We dropped off one of our sons to get a flight home to Bloemfontein. We went to level two of the parking lot. My son was ahead of myself and my wife. A huge man came behind my son and tackled him to the ground,” said the father.

“I thought it was a mugger. He beat my son and then it appeared that he had a knife. I grabbed him off the kid and then he went for me. He stabbed me three times (in the left arm).”

A man attacked at Cape Town International Airport holds the bloodied T-shirt of his son, 23, who was stabbed five times in the same attack. (Photo by Yazeed Kamaldien)

A man attacked at Cape Town International Airport holds the bloodied T-shirt of his son, 23, who was stabbed five times in the same attack. (Photo by Yazeed Kamaldien)

He continued: “A crowd gathered and saw what was happening. Three female police officers came but they didn’t have handcuffs. They then ran off to call male police officers who had guns. They forced him to the ground and took him to a holding cell.

“They told us he was either mentally unstable or high on drugs.”

He also said it was “disgusting that this happened at the airport”.

“This should not happen at the airport. It’s an area where tourists arrive. It’s a window to our country. The police took us through the arrivals hall with blood all over our clothes. What impression does that create?” said the man.

His wife said the attack “didn’t appear as a robbery”.

“We are all very shocked. Our son could have been murdered in front of our eyes at the airport,” she said.

A doctor at the hospital told the family their son’s stab wounds was “pretty deep”. He had been stabbed in both shoulders near the spine and remains hospitalized.

The wife’s cousin from Johannesburg said they rushed to the airport to assist the family. She was also on holiday with her husband and said she was “almost robbed at the Waterfront three weeks ago”.

“This has confirmed my fears about Cape Town. I’ve been scared of muggings in this city. There are thugs in Cape Town. I’m shocked at what happened to my cousin in an international city and airport,” she said.

Cape Town airport’s acting spokesperson Deborah Francis confirmed the “isolated assault” at an airport that on average has 23 000 visitors passing through its doors during the festive season.

“The suspect appeared to be unstable as he begged the police to shoot him. This incident is an abnormal occurrence and given the airports various levels of security it is an incident that has the full arm of the law,” said Francis.

The police will go through court proceedings to determine the mental status and motive of the suspect. We regret this incident as it is extremely random and trust that this family has a speedy recovery on all levels.”

Western Cape police spokesperson Andre Traut said a “man in his 20s was arrested”.

“He was arrested on charges of assault with attempt to commit grievous bodily harm. We have reason to believe he is mentally disturbed,” said Traut.