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Fakir Hassen in Johannesburg
A large number of Muslims in South Africa have been protesting the US-led air strikes in Afghanistan, saying they would participate in the Taleban's jehad call.
Muslims who took part in emotion-charged protests Thursday and Friday said the community would defy the government threat to take action against anyone trying to avenge the US strikes on Afghanistan.
The US-led air strikes against Afghanistan started last Sunday, in an effort to flush out Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the terror attacks on American cities.
Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said it was illegal for the country's citizens to become involved in mercenary activities or foreign military action.
Two per cent of South Africa's 43.6 million population is Muslim.
A Cape Town-based South African Muslim organisation, Qibla, earlier had threatened retaliatory action against the US for its attacks on Afghanistan. Members of Qibla and another organisation, People Against Gangsterism and Drugs, claimed they were recruiting members to fight side-by-side with the Taleban.
The US has listed both Qibla and PAGAD as terrorist organisations. There have been a number of court cases against PAGAD recently following attacks and killings in the Western Cape province.
The US listing claims the two organisations may have links with bin Laden's Al Qaeda.
But not all South African Muslim organisations are adopting the same militant approach, especially those dominated by Muslims of Indian origin.
The Jamiatul Ulema, largely seen as a pro-Taleban organisation, has urged local Muslims to exercise restraint and respect South African law.
"We urge the Muslim community of our country to exercise patience and restraint and not allow emotions to cloud our minds and thereby act recklessly. This is not the hallmark of a true Believer," the Jamiatul Ulema said in a statement.
"We call upon one and all not to indulge in acts that are deemed violations of the law of our country as this will prove to be counter-productive to our communities and causes," added the statement.
At the University of the Witwatersrand, the Muslim Students Association said suggestions that planeloads of South African Muslim youth were preparing to go to Afghanistan to fight were "nonsense."
Mohammed Cajee, president of the MSA, said it was "impractical" to go to fight in Afghanistan.
Most South African Muslim students on the campus did not support the ideologies of the Taleban, with some describing their brand of Islam as "narrow, rigid and archaic."
Indo-Asian News Service
The War on Terrorism: The Complete Coverage
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External Link: For further coverage, please visit www.saja.org/roundupsept11.html
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