Cape Town - The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has strongly condemned the desecration of the Mowbray Muslim Cemetery, where around 80 headstones were removed from graves on Wednesday and placed in a cross-like symbol in the graveyard.
According to Riad Fataar, chairperson of the MJC’s cemetery management committee, all of the removed headstones were from graves where people had been interred recently.
“It is so sad because people who have just buried relatives will have to now come and identify the graves in order for us to correctly place the headstones where they need to be,” said Fataar.
“Heavier memorial tombstones that are made from marble were also removed, which tells you that this might not have been a one-person job,” he said.
Fataar said that broken headstones “forming strange shapes” had also been placed in graves that had been dug for funerals that had been scheduled to take place yesterday.
“Broken headstones were placed in an upside-down triangle in one of the graves, which some people have said has occult or satanic symbolism, while others have said that this desecration has something to do with Halloween (which is being celebrated today),” he said.
“The MJC is angered and sad about what has happened. However, while the headstones were placed into the shape of a cross, we are not pointing fingers at all Christians and are instead calling on interfaith groups to stand together against this heinous and undignified act.”
Mandla Mandela, chief of the Mvezo Traditional Council in the Eastern Cape, also denounced the desecration of the grave sites.
“The violation of this sacred space is an evil act and an offence not only against religious sensibility, but a violation of the values of peace, respect and dignity accorded to all citizens by our Constitution,” he said.
Stuart Diamond, director of the Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies, expressed anger at the desecration of the graves, calling it an Islamophobic act.
“Having recently been confronted by the desecration of 60 Jewish graves in the Wellington cemetery, we fully share with your (Muslim) community the dismay that, despite having a Constitution that guarantees freedom of religion, religious bigots still display their hatred and intolerance with cowardly attacks on graves,” he said.
Peter Hammond, director of Frontline Fellowship, said he understood the pain caused by the desecration of graves.
“As missionaries we have witnessed the desecration and destruction of many Christian graves in Sudan and Nigeria, and understand the pain this causes,” he said.
According to police spokesperson Andrè Traut, Woodstock police were investigating the matter.