Fortnight before elections, local and foreign Muslim bodies rally behind ANC

13 May 2024 - 18:19
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The ANC hosted the international Muslim community and scholars for a "Thanksgiving mission."
The ANC hosted the international Muslim community and scholars for a "Thanksgiving mission."
Image: Supplied

The ANC stance on the Gaza conflict and Palestinian solidarity seems to have won them support from the Muslim community, abroad and locally, ahead of the May 29 elections.

Speaking at press conference at the ANC headquarters, Luthuli House, on Monday after a meeting between the party's leaders and local and international Muslim scholars, local Muslim leader Sheik Ebrahim Gabriels said South Africa was the best place for his kind to live thanks to the ANC.

“It is an honour for me to stand here on behalf of the Muslim community in South Africa. We are so proud to be Muslims of South Africa, we are the most free Muslims in the world because of the ruling party, the ANC, over the last 30 years. We are also very thankful for their solidarity.”

Gabriels expressed his gratitude for the ANC-led government's call for a ceasefire in the Gaza strip.

“I travel all over the world. At the last international conference I attended in Qatar, people were shocked to hear that I'm from South Africa. They would stop me and express gratitude, saying no one in the world has done what South Africa did — standing up for Palestine like that.”

He was joined by a delegation of Muslim leaders and scholars from across the globe on Monday, including secretary-general of the US council of Muslim Organisations, Ousama Jamal and Shaykh Yusuf Abdoulaye, representing the East African Muslim community in North America.

They expressed gratitude for South Africa’s bold stance taken at the International Court of Justice, where the country charged Israel with acts of genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said the gathering, termed a “thanksgiving mission”, served as a platform to acknowledge and reinforce “our unified commitment to the Palestinian cause”.

“South Africa’s international legal action against apartheid Israel is informed by our own historical experience of apartheid and our ongoing commitment to combating global injustice. We stand at a pivotal moment in the history of our nation and in the unfolding narrative of global solidarity.”

This past weekend, a global anti-apartheid conference on Palestine was held in Johannesburg.

It was concluded with a resolution to rally the country's Muslim community to back the ruling party in the upcoming polls under the theme: “Eligible South African Muslim voters are called upon to unite behind the ANC in the forthcoming elections.”

The ruling party said it was humbled, saying this endorsement is a “reflection of our shared values and the ANC's unwavering dedication to international justice and the rights of the Palestinian people”.

Dr Ibrahim Farouk el Zayat, emissary of Shaykh Ali Al Qaradaghi and also from the Council of European Muslims, emphasised the critical importance of the upcoming South African elections.

Zayat said these elections should champion the Palestinian struggle, aligning with the teachings of Islam that condemn any support for oppression and injustice.

Mbalula said the ANC remained committed towards building a just world, underpinned by equality, peace and prosperity for all and the values amplified by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“We welcome this act of solidarity as part of defending the gains of our freedom and an endorsement of our stance that South Africa cannot afford to be an island of success in a sea of poverty, neither can we attain peace and justice in a world of war and injustice.”

Mbalula said his party was inspired by this support at a time when South African sovereignty had come under threat because of the government's stance against Israel and international injustice.


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