Islamophobia: Commission branded ‘useless’

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Pretoria – The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities was “simply useless”.

So said Pretoria social cohesion advocate and anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee after the commission opted not to bring Facebook users accused of propagating Islamophobia to book following an eight-month probe.

The commission also decided not to expel its commissioner Richard Botha, who had been accused of making “unfavourable” statements.

Abramjee laid a complainant against Botha for likening the mosque to be built in Valhalla to a brothel.

This was just weeks after the land where the mosque is to be built was officially handed over to the Thaba Tshwane Islamic Trust by former mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa.

Residents raised many objections to the presence of a mosque in their residential area, complaining about, among other issues, the loudness of calls to worship.

“This man was the main objector against the mosque from the very beginning and even tried to break up the hand-over meeting. He compared the mosque to a brothel and I laid a complaint for the commission to expel him,” Abramjee said.

“Not once did he declare that he was a commissioner within the commission. He was out there promoting cultural hatred which goes against everything that the commission stands for.”

The commission on Wednesday sent responses to Abramjee’s complaint. It stated: “After careful assessment, the commission is of the view that your complaint does not pertain to violation of cultural, religious and linguistic rights, and accordingly does not fall within the scope and mandate of the commission. Your complaint was referred to the National Assembly of South Africa.”

Abramjee said he was dismayed by the decision, and felt the commission did not have the guts to act against one of its own. “I’ll even go as far as calling them useless. We need to act decisively against people who continue to divide our country by promoting cultural intolerance.”

Botha, meanwhile, said the decision taken by the commission was guided by rules and regulations as only the National Assembly could discipline him. “I have never promoted religious intolerance or threatened the construction.

“The only thing I have pushed for was the constitutional importance around proper public participation.”

He added his position was never concealed in any way.