Thursday, February 14, 2013

STATEMENT: Union of Muslim Students' Association of South Africa Speaks Out Against Rape

The Union of Muslim Students' Association of South Africa (MSA Union), along with the rest of civil society, remains deeply distressed and is still coming to terms with the brutal rape and murder of student, Anne Booysen. We continue to pray that God grants Anne peace and her family contentment and strength.

We have acknowledged that the horrific incident unravelled deep sociological problems within South African society where the systematic degradation of women and children has given way for domestic violence, rape and other violent crimes towards them. Rape, particularly, has become part of a collective consciousness of South African women. Such incidents, however, appeal to a universal morality that transcends religion, ethnicity, gender and age and should be addressed holistically.

Two primary problems are illustrated from such incidents: The moral decay of South African society, and the need for harsher legal punishment for violent crimes.

The MSA Union strongly condemns any form of sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence and women and child abuse. We have realised that even in our tertiary institutions, such incidents are rife. Last year a student from the University of Johannesburg was raped, and this is just one of many such cases at our campuses. The organisation is in the process of developing various awareness campaigns on our campuses and schools across South Africa. The campaigns will intend to create a consciousness around these often taboo issues and will take place in the next month. We applaud Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekgha on taking the idea of rape education at schools further. We are further appealing to all students, our supporters and constituencies to speak out against rape, confront it and fight it. We are calling on victims of rape and abuse to be strong, but break their silence and to not protect the rapists- they must contact the authorities.

We are also calling on our university management and Student Representative Councils to create a campus space where such crimes will not be tolerated and also to create a space that will serve as a safe haven for victims of such crimes.

In addressing the second issue, the MSA Union has joined other members of civil society including the ANC Women’s League, Muslim Judicial Council, South African Student Congress, Anglican Church, Lead SA and others in calling on the legal system of South Africa to employ harsher sentences in rape cases and violent crimes and to introduce special courts to deal with rape cases.

In addition, we call on the rest of our South African civil society, religious organisations, government, political parties and business people to engage in this collective consciousness to stop rape in this country.

We pray that Allah guides us to what is best, and protects our women, children and society.
“Among those We have created there is a community who guide by the Truth and act justly according to it.” (Surat al-A‘raf, Verse 181)

Issued by the Union of Muslim Students’ Association of South Africa (MSA Union)*

For more information, contact:

Yusuf Talia, President of the Union of Muslim Students’ Association of South Africa,, 071 677 2391

Khadeeja Manjra, Vice President of the Union of Muslim Students’ Association of South Africa,, 071 351 2094

 *The Muslim Students' Association (MSA) was established in 1973. It has grown to be one of the largest student representative bodies in South Africa. The MSA aims to assist in developing students and creating an active citizenship. This is done by developing structures to create a national and influential student representative body, leadership development programs, advocating for social, political and economic justice through campaigns, social projects and humanitarian initiatives that are all student based

Friday, February 1, 2013

Opinion : Military intervention for Economic Domination

By : Sumayya Omar

Ever wondered why our continent is being bombarded by "Western Powers" declaring to fight against the so-called rebel groups and ensuring the construction of democratic rule? Have you ever come across the quote “Resistance is not terrorism"? Did politics ever reveal it to you; that all politics is a crime, a crime with no cost to the West but suffrage to the rest? 

We read it everywhere and witness it on the news. We see that France has re-instated its former colonial position in Mali, realigning their power and assisting the Malian Government to fight against the Tauregs (commonly known as the rebel groups) who are nomads of the land and who now seek refuge in the far Mountains of Mali. Islam is their religion, and so, they are called "Islamist" or "Jihadist" by the West.
We watched on Sunday as Malian troops with French backing invaded Northern Timbuktu, secured the airport of Timbuktu from the ‘rebels’, and recaptured northern Timbuktu. Nevertheless it is rumored that historical artifacts, manuscripts and lost libraries of Islamic History were destroyed by “Islamist extremists" with statements that extremists burnt manuscripts and texts of ancient religions. One would question why the media would phrase it as such or even report on such fallacy, but in reality and not Western reality, those claims are false. Mahmoud Zouber who is Mali's presidential aide on Islamic Affairs, stated that the manuscripts are safe and have not been destroyed. In actuality, only shrines and monuments faced destruction.

 The Malian situation has very little to do with Islamic history but rather, as mentioned in the beginning, "All politics is a crime", and thus all politics is about protecting and advancing the Western interest. Furthermore, when did resistance begin to be equated to terrorism? 

For years now the Malian Government has been failing to provide security and territorial stability for its people with failed rebel attempts to overthrow the government from as early as the 1960s. This has been met with heightened population tension from the Tauregs and Malians which is a result of conflict in religion and the enforcing of Shariah (Islamic Law) by the Tauregs who have dominated Mali for some time. Furthermore, it is because of the threat of desertification as well the unsustainable use of its resources owing to the challenges which the West African country faces.  

Mali is a West African country, with a mixed population of desert people, French and Tauregs. Just south of Algeria and Mali lies Niger, a country that is currently is the fourth largest producer of Uranium and co-incidentally supplying the French nuclear power stations. Not only is Uranium on the Malian doorstep but the Sahel Oil reserves as well.   

Moreover, Mali has been branded as the so-called 'training ground for Al-Qaeda" and a country which is alleged to be an abode of Islamic terrorists, which prompts powers, such as the United States of America, to back any power in Mali in order to ensure that Al Qaeda doesn’t set up any training ground.  

For some time Mali has encountered and experienced territorial instability between the secular state and Islamist movement or the "Jihadist." For example, since April last year rebel groups have been claiming to invade and capture the city of Bamako which home most French citizens.
But what really sparked the situation in Mali links back to the occurrence of the hostage crisis at the In Amenas gas plant that was directly linked to an Al-Qaeda operation. As openly stated by Mokthar Belmokhtar, who had fought in both Afghanistan in 1980 and the Algerian civil war in the 1990s, “We are ready to negotiate with the West and the Algerian government provided they stop their bombing of Mali's Muslims."
Questionable now is how ironic that the French has responded to the Malian government's call for aid and military assistance but not to the Central African Republic's calls?
In the meantime, and for the people of Mali, "It is not about the memory of the pain but rather the long lasting impression" as French and Malian forces move swiftly and oppressively in Mali, aiming to recapture lands such as Timbuktu. For those Malian people, they see the French as liberators, liberating them from “Al-Qaeda linked rebels" and Islamic rule of law. The liberators have outlined their mission in Mali and with support from the Malian Government, they aim to deploy forces and resources to stop the rebels, recapture the towns which the rebels have captured and finally, secure the Northern desert in order to prevent the rebels from returning.   

For the West, and especially the French,“Mali is a potential Afghanistan for France". However, to actualize this situation, what is becoming more apparent in our African continent and what we are failing to realize is that the West is coming back. It is not only the "New age of war" but it is history repeating itself and the re-colonization and post scramble of Africa. Their mission for Africa is resource and economic domination, and their cover story for Africa is to help failed states and ensure stability - all through the establishment of democratic regimes and laws. Their excuse is to prevent the spread of Islamism.  

They did it once before: first it was backward, uneducated heathen who became slaves and now it is Muslims linked to terrorism - an excuse they use to dominate and control. Call them rebels, call them Jihadist; but when fighting for your existence became an act of terrorism, ask yourself, do you really know what is going on?
- Sumayya is the MSA Union of South Africa Head of politics, South African and international affairs. She is currently studying at the university of Pretoria.Sumayya has written the piece on behalf of MSA Union.