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Right to worship questioned after protests outside Gupta event

Politics
Durban - Protests and clashes outside a Gauteng venue where the Gupta family held a prayer service have raised questions about religious freedom and the right to worship.

The Katha, held on Sunday at the Saxonwold Military Museum, was marred by violence after the Johannesburg against Injustice (JAI) organisation and the Black First Land First (BLF) movement clashed outside the venue.

The JAI said on Monday that it was considering legal action against BLF and the Gupta family. 

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Members of the Johannesburg Against Injustice movement demonstrating against Gupta Katha outside Saxonwold Military Museum on Sunday. Picture: Supplied/ JAI

The JAI, a group of political, civic and youth activists, accused the BLF of attacking its peaceful protest against the religious event being hosted by the controversial Gupta family.

The group said the event was at odds with the Gupta family as prayer “teaches people not to be greedy”.

JMPD officers intervene in scuffles between JAI and members of Black First Land First movement. Picture: Supplied/ JAI

JAI said 40 of its members were staging a peaceful demonstration when they were allegedly attacked by BLF members on Sunday.

“Members of the BLF movement physically and verbally attacked our members.” Responding to the allegations, the BLF national co-ordinating committee blamed Save SA, claiming the group was circulating a statement “devoid of any truth” under the name of JAI.

It said the religious rights of the Gupta family were being violated and it was concerning that religious organisations had not spoken out against this.

Scuffles ensue between JAI and BLF members at Gupta Katha outside Saxonwold Military Museum on Sunday Picture: Supplied/ JAI

Ashwin Trikamjee, president of the Hindu Maha Sabha, said there was a responsibility for Hindus and other faith groups to respect the right to worship so long as it did not amount to a breach of morality. 

He said the constitution guaranteed freedom of speech, culture and religion. 

* Additional reporting by ANA

The Mercury

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