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Cape Town sheikh calls Zionism “a world cancer”

  • imam 3
“As apartheid was a cancer here, Zionism is a world cancer. It is going to consume the world. I see Zionism as the major threat in the world today. Benjamin Netanyahu and your ilk and kind, your time is near. You will also go six feet down.”
by TALI FEINBERG | Jun 20, 2019

These are the words that went around the world via the internet on a Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) video. They were not the words of a despot in the Middle East. They came from the mouth of Cape Town imam Sheikh Abduraghman Alexander, at his mosque in Gatesville, near Hanover Park on the Cape Flats on 5 June.

Sheik Alexander is the co-imam of the Masjudul Mosque. He was addressing a large gathering of congregants.

His sermon was recorded by MEMRI, an organisation that bridges the language gap between the West, Middle East, and South Asia. It provides timely translations of Arabic, Farsi, Urdu-Pashtu, Dari, and Turkish media, as well as original analysis of political, ideological, intellectual, social, cultural, and religious trends.

“There is no such thing as the state of Israel. Israel is a rogue state. Israel is an illegitimate state,” said Sheik Alexander. “We need to send our voice to Palestine and tell Fatah and Hamas, it is time that you come to your senses. Leave aside your political differences. Leave aside striving for domination and power, and take into consideration the desperate conditions of the whole Palestinian people.”

He continued, “This morning, we pray to Allah: grant liberation to the Al-Aqsa mosque. Grant liberation to the people of Palestine. With all this turmoil going on, there are heavy drums of war beating against Iran, stemming from the so-called superpower of the United States of America. Come to your senses, all the power that you strive for, and as powerful as you think you are, Donald Trump and every despot and tyrant of the world. Benjamin Netanyahu and your ilk and kind, your time is near. You will also go six feet down.”

In response to the sheikh’s comments, Wendy Kahn, the national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies said, “Religious leaders should promote harmony, not utilise speech that is divisive and polarising. These statements in no way show a desire for peace building and resolution of this painful conflict. As South Africans and especially South African religious leaders, we would hope that messaging be of a constructive nature rather than these hate-filled utterances.”

Rowan Polovin, the chairperson of the South African Zionist Federation Cape Council, echoed these sentiments. “It is unacceptable that these virulent and vituperative comments that call for the destruction of the Jewish state are made openly in South Africa. This kind of inflammatory language shows the anti-Semitic underbelly of anti-Zionism in this country.”

“I am sorry that this sheikh sees his job as stirring hate. This sounds like a call to war, not a sermon with any solutions for the people he claims to support,” said Rabbi Greg Alexander, who has worked extensively with Muslim religious leaders to build interfaith bridges between Muslim and Jewish communities in Cape Town.

“Has he reached out to any local Jewish or Israeli partners to discuss the problems of the Middle East? Does he have relationships with any of the non-governmental organisations in Israel and Palestine who are working day and night to create bridges for peace?” Rabbi Alexander asked rhetorically.

“I understand that this same sheikh has called for interfaith understanding. I would want any leader who takes the pulpit to discuss Palestine to work through the complexity of the issues, and put solutions on the table. I invite him to come forward with his solutions,” he added.

The SA Jewish Report attempted to speak to Sheik Alexander, but he said he was unwell and could not respond to questions.

Sheikh Shuaib Appleby, speaking in his personal capacity, said, “I would like to suggest that, first and foremost, there is a need for faith leadership to engage each other on the most contested sacred location in the world [Al-Aqsa/the Temple Mount] purely from a religious and spiritual perspective. Mount Moriah, which is known as Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa, does hold a sacred place for Jews, Muslims, and Christians.”

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