Afghan attack ‘a gross injustice’, says SA’s muslim community

Afghan group Hezb-e-Islami claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying it was in response to a film mocking the Prophet Muhammad, which ignited protests in various Muslim communities around the globe.

But Durban-based academic Suleman Dangor said such attacks were counterproductive. "Those Muslims who have been involved in mindless acts of violence simply reinforce all the negative stereotypes of Muslims," he said. "There can be simply no justification for the bombing, which resulted in the loss of innocent lives."

Dangor said that although Muslims could feel justifiably aggrieved by films such as  Innocence of Muslims, they needed to learn to express their dissatisfaction in "nonconfrontational" ways.

"They cannot vent their frustration on innocent people and must learn to express their disagreement in ways that are nonconfrontational – through discussion, petition and, in exceptional cases, through the judicial process, such as the British royals are now doing.

"Neither the South Africans nor the Russians had anything to do with the Innocence of Muslims, which makes it an act of gross ­injustice. Even attacking the American embassy is senseless and counterproductive. There is no evidence that the US government was responsible for or supported the making of the movie," he said.

But Dr Faisal Suliman, the chairperson of the South African Muslim Network (Samnet), said his organisation was perturbed to learn that a United States federal informant could have been behind the production of the film. "The making of the movie and its content have all the trappings of a false-flag operation.

Deliberate move
"Notwithstanding this, Samnet condemns any attacks on any innocent civilians perpetrated by any person or group under the pretext of defending or avenging the deliberate move to instigate the very reactions we are witnessing."

Suliman said that the organisation believed that there were other factors underlying the emotional reaction to the film in some parts of the world.  

"In many countries, much of the outpouring of emotion and violence is in fact a reflection of pent- up anger and frustration at the invasion and occupation of many Muslim countries by Western alliances and frustration with the demagogues running many Muslim majority countries.

"We also cannot discount the high likelihood of them forcing activities in these countries to provide further pretext for air and ground strikes by United States-led forces and the perpetuation of the stereotype of Islam as violent and intolerant so that the justification for the war on terror in a US election year is maintained."

Maulana Ebrahim Bham, the secretary general of the Council of Muslim Theologians South Africa (Jamiatul Ulama South Africa), said the motives for the attack remained unclear. "Though Hezb-e-Islami has claimed responsibility for this deadly attack as an act of revenge against the release of a blasphemous movie about the prophet of Islam, there cannot be certainty about this motive," he said.  "Afghanistan has become a country where such attacks are a common occurrence."

He said he was shocked by the news that South Africans were among the victims of the attack. "Our hearts are with the families and friends of all those who have lost their lives in this attack. Their deaths remind us of the continued cycle of violence in Afghanistan under occupation."

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