Anger mounts in South Africa over pigs’ heads thrown in mosque

October 18th, 2008 - 4:13 pm ICT by IANS  

FacebookPotchefstroom (South Africa), Oct 18 (IANS) South African Muslim leaders have called for restraint as anger mounted Friday over two pigs’ heads being thrown into a mosque after its windows were smashed by unidentifed people earlier this week.Local Muslims said they had lived peacefully with their neighbours, especially some white right-wing supporters who are known to still have strong racist views in what was once one of the heartland areas of apartheid.

However, at regular Friday prayers across the country, Muslim anger grew at the incident as groups huddled to discuss it.

Moulana Ebrahim Bham, secretary-general of the Jamiatul Ulama (council of Muslim theologians), called on Muslims to respond “with restraint” to such provocation.

“The Jamiatul Ulama has learnt with sadness of the news of the desecration of a mosque in Potchefstroom…such contempt for a place of worship is an act of barbarism which cannot be condoned in a diverse society like ours that is built on mutual respect and understanding,” the council said in a statement issued here Friday.

“We join all faith groups as well as the Bishop Desmond Tutu Diversity Trust in unequivocally condemning this act, especially at a time other incidents of racism and intolerance have been linked to the town,” it added.

A police spokesman confirmed that a charge of malicious damage to property had been laid after the caretaker of the mosque had locked up for the night and then found the pigs’ heads inside the mosque when he opened to prepare for the pre-dawn prayers. He also found two windows of the mosque broken. Blood had also been smeared on the walls of the mosque.

The incident with the pigs follows closely on several White students at the North West University campus in Potchefstroom coming under fire after starting a racist group on the Internet social networking site Facebook and making strong statements that they hated blacks, using a local derogatory Afrikaans term to describe them.

The small Muslim community of the town, some two hours west of Johannesburg, are almost all of Indian origin and were forcibly resettled outside the town from areas in the central business district that they had lived and traded in for generations.

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