Thursday, June 27, 2013

Statement : Union of Muslim Students’ Associations’ of South Africa support the call to Action against the US Foreign Policy and Rejection of Obama Visit to South Africa

27 June 2013
We as the Union of Muslim Students’ Associations’ of South Africa would like to reaffirm our utmost rejection of the criminal visit of the United States of America (USA) President, Barack Obama to our country. We declare our support for stance taken by the Muslim Lawyers Association (MLA) and the efforts of our compatriots in the coalition, standing firm in rejecting Obama’s Visit to South Africa and against the decision taken by the University of Johannesburg to award an Honorary Degree to the President of the USA.

The award of an Honorary Degree is done by the resolution of the Council and of Senate of an institution of higher learning on the grounds of his or her distinguished contribution to learning or by resolution of the Council on any other grounds noting that the contribution of the person in question is not viewed in isolation but is assessed in a holistic context. We fail to understand how the USA's arrogant, selfish and oppressive foreign policies, continuous unfair treatment of workers, international trade relations deeply rooted in war mongering, colonial racism and the disregard and destruction of the environment and incapacity in making the realization of a just and peaceful world possible are sufficient basis to even ‘honour’ the President of the USA, Barack Obama.

In the words of the Freedom Charter of South Africa, “our people have been robbed of their birth right to land, liberty and peace by a form of government founded on injustice and inequality”. As South African youth, after 19 years of democracy, can attest that we have still not healed from the wounds of the oppressive apartheid regime.

We find it ludicrous that the main cheerleader of a regime led by the Israeli government, which unequivocally resembles the social, political and economic construct of the South African apartheid regime that has raped the inhabitants of this land from actualizing their true potential is being ‘honoured’ for his distinguished contribution to the progressive development of society.

We find the continued support by the Obama administration of the USA, to Israel and its apartheid policies, enough bases to disqualify Barack Obama from being acknowledged with an Honorary Degree by any South African public institution of higher learning.

As a representative of the youth intelligentsia of this country, we find the contradictions between what is universally understood as a fair basis to award an Honorary Degree to the track record of the USA President, Barack Obama an insult to our intelligence for the following reasons:
• The championing and maintenance, by the USA, in the militarisation of international relations and co-operation. It is a well-known fact that the USA approaches a lot of conflicts on the world through inciting, encouraging as well and championing war, primarily driven by its business interests often masqueraded in the language of defence of human rights.
• The continued greed in the guzzling of world resources by the USA epitomized by its encouragement and support of its multinational companies that have no regard for the environment, human rights like progressive labour laws.
• The USA’s active support and defence of colonial and oppressive regimes.
• The United States of America role in contributing to the destruction of the environment, as being the single largest contributor to global warming, which increasingly condemns the world into catastrophic environmental disasters.

Often accused of acting from an intellectually baseless standpoint, we would like to humbly request that the Chair of the University of Johannesburg Honorary Degree Committee and the Vice Chancellor to assist us in understanding the terms fair, holistic and precedent because using these terms, our conclusion of the decision by the University of Johannesburg to award the USA President, Barack Obama with an Honorary Degree:
• Has undermined the value of a South African Honorary Degree.
• Is setting a dangerous precedent which other public institutions of higher learning might pursue in future, further undermining the value of a South African Honorary Degree.
• Is an insult to all South Africans by ‘honouring’ the main cheerleader of a regime which has been described as a replication of apartheid South Africa?
Furthermore, as a representative of the youth intelligentsia of this country, we reaffirm the stance of South African Communist Party (SACP), the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCL), the South African Students Congress (SASCO),the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Friend of Cuba Society (FOCUS), Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa (BDS South African), and the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU).

We Call Upon All Peace and Justice Loving citizens to take the streets in Action against The United States Foreign Policy, and Against University of Johannesburg Decision to award Obama an Honorary Doctorate at an” Appropriate Occasion”.

We reaffirm the demands issued the Coalition:
• The Immediate Release of Our Friends of Cuba
• The Immediate Closure of Guantanamo Bay and the Release of the Innocent
• The Immediate Withdrawal of Support to Morocco who continue to colonise Western Sahara
• The Withdraw of AFRICOM
• Cease US/NATO warmongering in Syria and elsewhere
• Close GITMO
• Respect Privacy of Networking. Stop Snooping!

Lastly, the Union of Muslim Students’ Association of South Africa urge our compatriots in the coalition and broader civil society to raise our issues and stress that our National Government are to hear and understand our demands, in order for them to pressure the United States to honour our demands. In the main, the peoples of South Africa through the efforts of solidarity and the struggle for self-determination and the right to live freely and justly, has championed the liberation movement.

We see it fit that South Africa as an Emerging Power, An Ambassador for Africa and a Key Role Player in the South, who undeniably has also been negatively affected and limited in its action by the foreign policies of imperial powers. Nonetheless as a leadership of developing world, our National Government must play more of active role in championing the representation of demands and further ensuring their demands for the people of the Africa, Middle East and Latin America. If South Africa can champion that, then South Africa will be recognised as the true leader of the South.

In the name of Justice, Freedom and Equality; we must stand for the entire world and her people against imperialism and oppression, amongst others. As long as the USA President, Barack Obama continues to rule in a manner and support a regime that undermines the Freedom Charter of South Africa, his presence on South African soil is unwelcomed and an insult to the very people still recovering from the wounds of apartheid South Africa.

Statement issued by Yusuf Talia, President and Sumayya Omar, Political Officer of the Muslim Students’ Association Union (MSA Union)

Yusuf Talia: / 071-677-2391
Sumayya Omar: / 076-331-5299

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Open Letter to the Muslim Students Association

16 June 2013

Dear MSA leader, 

Asalamu Alaikum

I write this open letter to you, respected MSA chairperson and MSA committee member in South Africa. It's befitting that I pen this on June 16. A significant day in our history as South Africans - a day when the youth stood in the forefront, risking their lives for the greater good. They fought bravely in the face of injustice…may their sacrifices never be forgotten.

MSA Union is a national umbrella body representing 23 MSAs around South Africa. It’s been a long road to get to this point. In late 2011 discussions began to revive the National body that lay dormant for a number of years. We saw the need to work together to achieve common objectives - to build unity by working together, by removing the isolation that existed between campuses. The task was a momentous one. But Alhamdulillah progress was made and now MSA Union is alive and well. The challenge now is ensuring that we work together to keep MSA growing, to continue doing what is right, to strengthen ourselves and become the standard of excellence.  

Allow me to share with you how I was introduced to the MSA... many years ago, while I was still in high school, a friend of mine, Muhammed Patel suggested I attend a meeting of sorts at Wits University hosted by the MSA. At that time, Union had a ‘high schools’ project. On the day we were introduced to the MSA representatives there... Abdur Rahman Laily was involved- Muhammad Manjra, Bilal Randree, Muhammed Ziyaad Hassen (Ned), Ayesha Jacub, Zakir Patel and many others. (We, as MSA, stand on the shoulders of Giants whom I will always look up to).  We interacted with them for an entire day and in all honesty I was completely astounded by the work a group of young brothers and sisters were putting in for Islamic work. This for me is the definition of a life changing experience. Now if the MSA could do that for me, the question that arises is, why can't we, collectively do that for every Muslim student out there. We, as the Muslim youth at tertiary institutions can make a fact, we must make an impactful impression on our broader society.

Allow me to share my wish list for the MSA going forward...

MSA will be an organisation that trains the youth on how to continue to build our connection with Allah, develop leaders who have a strong Islamic identity and who are completely competent and willing to serve Islam.

MSA will be an organisation that sets the standards for every other organisation to aspire to. 

MSA will be an organisation that is fully sustainable in every way...with the financial resources and reserves to fulfil its objectives for projects that will please Allah.

MSA will be an organisation that every single Muslim on campus will want to be a part of.

MSA will be an organisation that develops leaders of society in every sphere and instils in them that doing Islamic work is a duty.

MSA will be an organisation that has individuals willing to continue MSA work irrespective of title and position.

MSA will be an organisation that is completely representative of Muslim youth in South Africa.

MSA will be an organisation that develops individuals that continue to be active in Islamic work well after their time on campus has passed.

MSA will be an organisation that creates space for individuals to continue to work with us even after they have graduated.

MSA will be an organisation that has an active high schools feeder system so when first years arrive at campus they have the skills needed to be active on campus and beyond. 

MSA will be an organisation that creates the spaces for students to be creative, innovative, ground breaking, and bring their talents to the fore.

MSA will be an organisation that is completely accessible, accountable, transparent, sustainable, having a staff compliment, and having active chapters.

MSA will be an organisation that is more concerned with serving project Islam than itself.

MSA will be an organisation that is made up entirely of hardworking, dedicated, committed, Allah conscious members.’s a long wish list...but completely doable...So, how do we build the organisation, the one we know MSA Can be? We start today. MSA belongs to every single one of you. It is now our responsibility to take the organisation forward and advance Project Islam.  It is our collective responsibility to make the MSA the organisation we want it to be. It will take perseverance, commitment and dedication to do this. Our duty is to make the best effort, to strive for excellence in all that we do… And then Make Dua that Allah grants us success. Ameen.

“Success through Excellence”

Yusuf Talia
Union of Muslim Students’ Association (MSA Union of South Africa)