SAPS ARREST WORSHIPERS BREACHING THE LOCKDOWN – ARRESTS JUSTIFIED, NOT THEIR CONDUCT!

With the commencement of the Holy month of Ramadhaan officially underway, many South Africans from the Muslim community were taken aback by what they witnessed in a recent video, which has been doing the rounds on Social Media, relating to the arrest of 17 worshipers who breached the regulations of the Disaster Management Act.

Since announcing a National lockdown & state of emergency in the country, President Cyril Ramaphosa has been urging South Africans to stay home & adhere to the law concerning the practice of social distancing. President Cyril Ramaphosa put out the following video to wish Muslims well for the month of Ramadhaan, whilst reiterating the need for measures to safeguard the continent; which was met with great pride and elation by the Muslim community.

Upon seeing this video, many of us felt that the President was sincere in his intentions;  without gravitating towards thoughts of this just being some publicity stunt.

Barely hours after the above video message was aired, an incident of the violation of rights & intolerance of religious diversity occurred. Police Officers outdid all the Presidents efforts with the manner in which they carried out their duties. Many of you have seen the video below (which is self-explanatory) exhibiting exactly what transpired on the day.

I feel that it would make no sense for me to regurgitate news reports, so let us look at how this matter was dealt with by the SAPS (South African Police Service).

  • The police raided a congregation in a Masjid/Mosque after a tip-off from an anonymous person
  • When they arrived at the Masjid/Mosque/place of worship, they entered the premises to find the worshipers in a kneeled/sitting position on the ground and began shouting; ordering the worshipers to lay down on the ground
  • They vehemently uttered insulting, sacrilegious and disrespectful remarks whilst making their arrests, including statements about the Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him)
  • One policeman stated, “Do you think Muhammed is more important than the President?”

WHAT WAS JUSTIFIED?

  • The arrest of the 17 worshipers found to have breached the lockdown regulations was surely justified – the Police officers merely carried out their duties by doing so
  • The implementation of a lockdown in the first instance was indeed the best manner in which to contain a pandemic currently ravaging the globe (this even supported and advocated by the very person the officers chose to insult – the Prophet Muhammed [P.B.U.H]).
  • A congregation of this nature, according to the law as it currently stands, is considered illegal & would warrant the arrest of individuals found to be in breach

 

WHAT WAS NOT JUSTIFIED?

  • Firstly, The Policemen entered a place of worship forcefully; shouting at the top of their lungs, despite it being common knowledge that religious places require silence & respect
  • They walked into the Mosque with their shoes on, parading around on the prayer mats as if it were their mothers’ lounge
  • The Policemen demanded that the worshipers lay on the ground (as if they posed an immediate threat to the Police officer’s safety). It was clear that these were peaceful worshipers and that they could never be viewed as a threat. Rather, these worshipers were compliant & in all likelihood would have simply adhered to demands by the officers to facilitate their arrests
  • The Policemen insulted the Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W. – Peace be upon him) by implying that the President of the Republic is superior to him. This is not a justified comparison at all – it should be duly noted that the legacy of the Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him) has carried over more than 1400 years (and will for many years to come), and he is a figure respected and loved by billions. Many speeches, writings and legacies of presidents/other public figures are soon forgotten- They barely stand the test of time. It only lasts as long as they are in office and possibly a while after, but never influences the way of life of so many people around the world. The ignorant statements uttered by the Policemen were baseless, needless & nonsensical.

    WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF FAILING TO ADDRESS INCIDENCES OF POLICE BRUTALITY OR VIOLATION OF RIGHTS BY LAW ENFORCEMENT?

    South Africa could very well end up like other countries in the world where the police abide by their own rules & seldom pay for their actions. In the United States, for example, they have laws enacted to protect Police Officers even when they grossly overstep their authority; conferring power on themselves to do as they please.

    America is the poster child for injustice, abuse and brutality by law enforcement. In a country that holds itself out to be one of the most civil and democratic nations, many minorities still suffer at the hands of the Police. If we think about the gross abuse of African-Americans over the decades by police officers, we will see the systematic ill-treatment, beating and even killing of so many innocent people in the name of “laying down the law”. From the Rodney King debacle in the ’90s to the most recently murdered, unarmed Pittsburgh teen, Oscar Grant – various reports(as well as videos) confirm that these are not isolated incidents. These atrocities have been going on for a very long time.

    Many of these heinous crimes are caught on video and seems as though the officers are never taken to task. Numerous protests, Campaigns & approaches to courts by human rights groups have fallen on deaf ears as the government refuses to provide any relief or retribution. You would naturally think that having such solid evidence would necessitate the conviction of the violating Officers, but nothing materialises. They merely suspend an officer until “the heat dies down” – before you know it that very same, psychopath of a person is back on the force, doing what he/she has become so accustomed to doing. It may seem as if I’m drifting off-topic here but my angle is that injustices continue to take place and get progressively worse when we fail to bring transgressors to justice.

    The religious freedom we have here in South Africa is amazing, with people being mostly tolerant. You’re able to practice your faith (whatever that may be) with great freedom. Islamophobia is a phenomenon which has taken over the world and propaganda led campaigns continue to run to put fear into the hearts of many around the world, with people having a false impression of what Islam is actually about.

    The only cure for this is education – we need to learn about other religions, share views and be tolerant. We shouldn’t just believe what the news tells us. If we fail to address these isolated incidences and fail to hold law enforcement liable for their actions – there is no telling how far law enforcement may go. Just remember that this video is one incident that we actually got to witness. What about countless other arrests made without the cameras rolling?

SOME BRIEF, NOTEWORTHY POINTS OF PROPHET MUHAMMED (PEACE BE UPON HIM) IN TIMES OF PLAGUE/CRISIS

  • The Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him) has said something to the following effect, “to save one life is as if to have saved all of humanity, and to have killed one person without just cause is to have killed all of humanity”
  • Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) has also advised people that in times of plague, they should not leave the place they are in & also should not enter a place where there is a plague.

What steps have been taken thus far?

  • The Jamiatul Ulama of South Africa has sent an open letter to the President to raise concerns regarding the sacrilegious statements as well as the demeanor and conduct of the Police Officer’s
  • The MLA (Muslim Lawyers association) are also attending to take the necessary steps to bring the officers to justice and to ensure that steps are taken against them
  • A case has been open against the Police by an individual of prominence in the Muslim community

 

** DUE TO THE VARIETY OF ISSUES THAT HAVE SURFACED OF LATE AND FOR PURPOSES OF CONCENTRATING THIS POST, I HAVE NOT ADDRESSED OTHER VIOLATIONS IN THE COUNTRY THAT HAS BEEN GOING ON AT THE SAME TIME. I WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO CONDEMN THE BEHAVIOUR OF ETHEKWINI MUNICIPALITY OFFICERS WHO EVICTED RESIDENTS DURING THE LOCKDOWN (DESPITE THEM HAVING A COURT ORDER SAFEGUARDING THEM FROM EVICTION). I WILL ELUCIDATE AND DELVE FURTHER INTO THIS TOPIC IN A FUTURE POST INSHA’ALLAH**

FROM WHERE I STAND

I know that the novel Corona virus or Covid-19 has become a hot topic on the lips of everyone – you simply can’t avoid it. The ubiquitous presence of this invisible, silent killer has the world running helter-skelter, or rather, confined withing the walls of their homes like prisoners. Fears of global economic collapse, overburdened health-care systems, starvation & the death of loved ones has brought the world to its knees with nobody really knowing what the future holds. Such fears have even driven some to extreme lengths. One particular incident which surfaced recently was the passing of Thomas Schaffer, the Finance Minister of Germany’s Hesse State who committed suicide due to him being “deeply worried“ over the crisis. He was actively involved in a scheme to provide financial assistance to distressed organisations and people. Apparently, he saw no way out of this perilous situation. Why is this so worrying to the masses as opposed to countless other despicable shit that goes on in the world on a daily?  I guess situations are more worrying when it affects more than just the poor, the weak, the outcasts, those that were accustomed to turmoil and heartache. That’s right, this virus doesn’t discriminate – your colour, creed or social standing mean nothing.

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People are so concerned about the plight of our world and what the future holds that they find themselves constantly on the prowl for new information – probing & scouring the net for the latest reports and updates. Many do so with disregard and indiscriminately take in & spread whatever information they come across. At times, even ludicrous claims and scenarios which don’t even make the slightest bit of sense to any person with half a brain. Things so dumb and ridiculous, that even at face- value, it requires no investigation to determine that it’s total and utter bullshit. Funny enough, these are the same mother fuckers who are the self-proclaimed “experts” on the corona virus, the Whatsapp message forwarders, the Facebook complainers, modern-day kvetches, the doomsday preppers that bought out Aisles 1-3 at Checkers to have his neighbour returning home to his family without bare essentials. All you’ll hear is the same damn shit, “I’m so bored, I have nothing to do!”, “I don’t know what I’m going to do if I can’t go to gym”, “I miss take-outs so much”, “I’m going crazy being at home”. While you cry about your first-world problems there’s a man who worries how he will bring home the daily bread to feed his family, a woman watering down the milk to keep her household going for just that little bit longer, an essential worker who doesn’t even get to be with his/her family and is forced to turn down a warm hug from their little ones upon returning home, the health-care worker who lays his/her life on the line for others, a man who has no home to go to, sick people who don’t even have the comfort of their loved ones nearby for their last days on earth, that Argentine cab driver who fears his vehicle being repossessed or a person in the slums/ghettos/barrios/locations/favelas/shanties who can barely keep away from people due to overcrowding.

Stress levels are at an all-time high. How many new cases are we on? When will the lockdown end? When will we go back to work? What does this mean for the economy? Did you see the Rand-Dollar exchange rate? Whilst these are real and valid concerns, remember that we are human at the end of the day. Certain things are simply out of our control and only the almighty knows what lies ahead. It is our duty to play our part, be a little less selfish and look at the bigger picture.  I have a lot of broader questions that I could never quite wrap my head around. Like how do we spend 50 million Dollars on fighter-jets and still have kids starving? We are battling a disease with a relatively low mortality rate, but does the world even care about preventable things ACTUALLY killing people all over the world? How is it that we have a dominant 1% in the world holding so much wealth whilst millions worldwide live below the poverty line? How do animals get treated like royalty and held in the highest esteem whilst people are tortured, raped, sold into slavery/the sex trade like mere property? How do we have couples crying, praying for a child in their life whilst people out here throwing babies in the garbage?

monochrome photo of girl crying

Why the doom and gloom rhetoric all of a sudden? “We better kick our asses into gear and take steps or many people may die”. These sentiments being shared by many leaders the world over. Haha well not in those exact words but you get where I’m coming from. Okay I get it – the situation is bad; the world is sick and it’s falling apart… The world is sick alright – sicker than you think but not in the way you think!  Personally, I think that the world is suffering from a much worse disease, a disease of the heart, and its consequences are just as dire.  Each person is entitled to their opinion and I have mine.

With the current situation in the world, the dirtiness of our hearts and ugliness of humanity has certainly reared its head, with people charging exorbitant prices for essentials. The same communities that supported them year after year bear the brunt of commercialist greed, Employers forcing their workers to endanger their lives for the betterment of the business with threats of unemployment/retrenchment hanging over them, newly established opportunists buying out health-safety stocks only to outrageously mark-up prices. What the hell are we doing? When will we realise that we are all that we got?

This shit doesn’t surprise me in the least. Historically, the most unfortunate of situations bring out the worst in people. Its sad that the countries who have the most, rape and pillage countries of their resources, usually those with a struggling lower class. The love of power and world domination has fueled nothing but hatred, famine, war and destruction.

In the contest of the most deplorable human beings on earth we have some seriously strong contestants. Behind door number 1, we have the great American Warlord – whose likes include bomb raids on hospitals & civilian populations in the middle of the night, depriving minorities of their rights, denying basic health-care to his people and his absolute favourite, sending poor people to kill other poor people –  firing weapons that’s costs more than he makes in a year….gotta love him!  Behind door number 2 is the ever so lovely power-hungry Middle- Eastern Dictator. They call him Lion, but I guess Black-widow would be more apt. You can be this mans significant other and he will STILL bite your head off. His likes include hindering government aid & relief, starving his people to death, child murder, selling his people out, using chemical warfare and you guessed it… he loves bombing hospitals as well.  If you thought our last contestant was a gem, be prepared to be blown away (literally) by this absolute legend who will give you a master class in compassion & love. Behind door number 3 might just be your dream lover. This man will make himself quite at home and has no problem settling in to new environments. He comes from a long line of leaders that simply do what they do best. A culture that has been handed down from his predecessors and you’ll be amazed at how much he doesn’t give a fuck.  He can’t count for shit, but don’t let that deter you. All it means is that he won’t even know much money he steals. If you’re looking for your prince charming, an absolute piece of work who will make you false promises and sell you dreams – look no further. His likes include inciting violence, corruption, distracting people from his cunning ways, evading justice as well as living like a high-roller while his people suffer with the highest rates of poverty & unemployment. Isn’t that just beautiful? Lastly on our list of beautiful contestants and the second American entry on our prodigious list we have Mr. Burnt orange man himself. If you’re a super racist, right-wing supporter, Islamophobe or Ku Klux Klan member, you are going to love this guy. He hails from a country that’s built on the blood, sweat and tears of minorities. His likes include exploiting foreign minorities and turning on them when they are most in need, building walls to keep them out (guess he didn’t have Legos as a kid), siding with oppressors, manipulating the truth and speaking out of his ass with a confidence that’s incomparable. He is such a smooth-talking charmer that he’ll have you hating the good guys and just adoring the tyrants.  But hey Satan, since it’s your lucky day and we find ourselves in the new world order, you can have them all. Just take your pick! I sure hope that we don’t get thrown into this conjugal relationship because there ain’t no turning back. It’s difficult to make another way once you have chosen a path and decided to walk it.

close up digitaries famous heads of state

Do you think these guys are bad? What about all of us who turn a deaf hear to the cries of the oppressed? I bring it up and I’m a kill-joy, a party-pooper to the escapades of all you online celebrities. I bet if I tagged you in a meme you’d be all giddy. Keep that shit far away from your mind because it doesn’t affect YOUR world; don’t think about it, because how else are you going to have yourself a good time.  What kind of animals are we if we indulge and have the most luxurious lives while our neighbour tries to sleep on a hungry stomach, digging his hands into his tummy to give himself the false feeling of being satiated? Find this last point hard to understand? Well its kind of what many people do with the clothes they wear, the cars they drive or houses they live in. They try to give themselves a false sense of power and importance. But what if I told you that the clothes you wear, places you go to or the status of people you surround yourself with doesn’t determine your value? What if I told you that the words you speak have more power than that 20-inch bicep or that AK-47? Trust me, words have killed more dreams than aggression ever has. How you decide to utilize that which is between your two lips can make all the difference in this world.

On a global scale, we need to make changes and most definitely change our priorities. Why is it that certain lives are viewed as being more valuable than others? I don’t even have to delve very far into history to show you the inequities in our world today. Since the outbreak of this virus, which has tightened its grip on the world, every death comes up on the radar and the whole world knows about global death tolls as and when it happens. One European death is catastrophic while we have people in Yemen, Central African Republic, Syria, South Sudan and Haiti dying by the thousands each year from starvation, war, malnutrition and related illnesses. In 2018, 85 000 people in Yemen died from starvation. We can find oil reserves, build pipelines kilometers long to find its way to its destination but we can’t even make a plan to find food for the starving tummies. We have countries spending billions to buy ventilators for purposes of battling the Covid-19 crisis but can’t spend a mere fraction of that for bags of rice, pap or flour. A hospital-grade ventilator is a costly machine -running between $25,000 and $50,000 each. Would you like to know how much a bag of rice costs? $4 dollars in US and about 0.60$ in India. A ventilator is used to keep a single patient alive and that person may still end up dying from the disease. One bag of rice can possibly sustain a family of 3 for up to a month. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do our level best to help people suffering with the virus, I’m just saying that our priorities are skewed and in situations like the one we are currently experiencing – its easy to see how we value people differently. Don’t even get me started with the world wanting to turn Africa into its guinea pigs/lab rats for the Covid-19 vaccine.

If we can work together to create monumental and larger-than-life advances, why can’t we focus our efforts on initiatives that generations from now will reap the benefits of.  We need to incorporate programs that focuses more on community and bringing people together; Developing a system of worldwide access to free healthcare, which views quality health services as an essential right to all persons and not just those that can afford medical aid or health related schemes; Put more money into education and paying teachers sufficiently, after all, they feed the minds of the youth and they truly are our future. Teaching our children to share, teaching selflessness, inculcating the principles of Ubuntu. Like my beloved prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said “None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.”

Everyone thinks that they need to be rich, be in some position of power or have a degree in order to influence the world around them. Greatness is not found in the actions of those people doing “big things”, but for me, the most inspiring are the ones who do little things in a big way. You have to live your life with purpose and not simply become a product of your surroundings. You will only find true meaning and value in your life when you can uplift others and benefit humanity. And no, I’m not asking you to be the next mother Teresa, or one of those YouTube influencers that show up at people’s doors to give them money (or an iPad or whatever). That’s just pure rubbish by the way – good people don’t have to advertise what they do because they know that the good lord watches all. Something which I have always loved about my religion and what I find so beautiful is the fact that your intentions are actually the most important thing, more so, than the action itself. Its amazing that you’ll be rewarded in full for truly having an intention in your heart to do an act of good even if you fail (i.e. you will be rewarded as having done it). On the flip side, you can give a billion dollars in charity but if you don’t do it for the right reasons, it comes to nothing. Indeed, the left hand need not know what the right hand does.

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We find ourselves in a world that will swallow you whole if you let it. Big corporations, social media “influencers”, celebrities have you chasing unattainable goals and wanting more than you actually need, planting seeds of greed & over-indulgence in your hearts with every swipe, every story and every post. Even the models on Instagram don’t look like the models on Instagram, go figure! Everything we see around us seeks to instill a sense of selfishness, arrogance and pride. All that amounts to nothing when we find ourselves six feet under – and my dear friends, we already have one foot in the grave. So ask yourself, how will you be remembered when you die? “We lost our beloved Sally, but hell, she could SURE do a mean make-up tutorial!!!”. We have women putting on masks on the daily just to be accepted by society, or worse, their own spouses. People have forgotten that imperfection is beauty in itself. Maybe I’m deviating from the topic here but some things just need to be said. Can we also start being more conscious with the way we spend our money?  Not being wasteful, over indulging and worrying more bout what’s in our bank accounts than our happiness. One of my favourite actors and comedian Jim Carrey said, “I hope that everybody could become rich and famous, and will get everything they ever dreamed of, so they will know that it’s not the answer”. Bottom line is, the goal is not to live forever…but to create something that will.

 

 

  • AN ARTICLE BY MOOSA MAYET

11-04-2020

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