Cape Town - A city Muslim cleric was allegedly assaulted while conducting a funeral prayer in a Strand mosque and forcibly removed from the premises by worshippers.
Sheikh Nazeem Safodien said he was left with a bruised body after being manhandled by a group of men at the Gustrouw Road mosque on December 27.
The incident was allegedly instigated by the mosque’s imam, Ghoesyn Rhoda, but Rhoda has denied that Safodien was assaulted.
“I was in terrible physical and emotional pain, the way those people handled me. They dragged me from pillar to post, insulted me in public, threatening me that if I don’t leave they will physically hurt me, and (they) accused me of talking lies in letters to the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC),” Safodien said.
Safodien said he took part in late evening prayers, which Rhoda had led.
“After the completion of the evening salaah, we moved forward carrying the deceased to the front to perform the salaah of Janaazah (funeral prayer) on the deceased female. I was appointed by the deceased’s family to lead and perform the burial at home, the mosque and the graveyard.
“Ghoesyn Rhoda stood up where he led the ishaa prayer, shouting at me and telling me in front of all the people: ‘Jy Nazeem, jy kan nie ons masiet salaah nie. Dis ons masiet en jy’s nie welkom hier nie. Gaan uit (You Nazeem cannot pray in our mosque. This is our mosque and you are not welcome here. Get out).’”
Safodien said men grabbed him by the neck and arms and dragged him to the back of the mosque. One put his arm under his chin, and he was pushed against a shoe rack.
He said it was not the first time he had been prevented by Rhoda from performing funeral prayers.
The first time, Safodien said, the MJC had been called in to mediate. He said he filed a criminal complaint against Rhoda, who allegedly instigated the assault.
Rhoda said Safodien was not attacked, but had been told he was not welcome in the mosque and should leave.
“Due to circumstances in our town, he was told that he wasn’t welcome in our mosque. When he was told to leave, he was the one who started the fracas.”
Asked to explain the circumstances, Rhoda said he would elaborate on Tuesday.