Islamic labels will incite violence: Al Jama-Ah

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IOL Kenya Westgate mall massacre REUTERS Women carrying children run for safety as armed police hunt gunmen who went on a shooting spree in Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi in this September 21, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic/Files

Johannesburg - The continued use of terms such as “Islamist militants” and “militant Islam” in South African newspaper reports will incite violence, Al Jama-Ah said on Thursday.

The party was doing its best to get Muslims to take an active part in the political life of the country, said its leader Ganief Hendricks.

“The biased terminology of editors is therefore not helpful,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Press Ombudsman declined to ban the use of the words.

He had been asked to do so by the United Muslim Nations International (UMNI) organisation.

Hendricks said if someone with a scarf or fez committed a violent act, it was most likely a criminal act and not an act of terrorism.

“What happened in Nairobi, in the mall attack, may have been a bank robbery gone wrong, using Islam as a cover up,” he said.

The Al-Qaeda-affiliated group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack at the Westgate mall on September 21.

Attackers held the mall for four days in a siege in which at least 67 people were killed.

Hendricks said by using terms such as “Islamic militants” and “militant Islam”, the media made itself a legitimate target for retribution, which Al Jama-Ah would condemn.

The party had gone as far as getting a fatwa against such action.

The Islamic Supreme Council of America defined a fatwa as an Islamic legal pronouncement, issued by an expert in religious law (mufti), pertaining to a specific issue to resolve an issue where Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) was unclear.

Hendricks said leaders in the Muslim community were concerned about incitement, and Al Jama-Ah hoped an appeal against the Ombud's ruling would be successful.

“It is pointless to appeal to the media for fair reporting, as many of them depend on the extra cash that this depiction brings to their pockets,” he said.

In a letter to UMNI, which was released to the media on Wednesday, Retief wrote that his office could not and would never instruct any newspaper to refrain from publishing anything that would amount to censorship.

“There is a vital difference between the latter (which takes place prior to publication) and regulation (which happens after publication),” he said.

UMNI leader Sheik Faarooq al Mohammedi said the ruling was contrary to the ombudsman's standards, rules, and regulations, and said he would appeal against the decision.

The appeal will be heard by SA Press Adjudication Panel chairman Bernard Ngoepe.

UMNI said it would pursue the appeal because the use of the terms had led to deaths in a number of countries because of misinformation, fear and hate-mongering, discrimination, and stigmatisation. This, in turn, led to hate crimes and terrorism, it claimed.

Sapa



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