Accord a ‘mere moral agreement’

From left, Thandile Kona, Ebrahim Rasool and Abubakr Mohamed. The signing of the Cape Accord commits Muslim leaders to uphold the dignity of human beings, foster unity among Muslims and promote a positive image of Islam.

The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has explained why the body has refused to become a signatory of the Cape Accord which was adopted at the Masjidul Quds in Gatesville last month.

The Cape Accord calls for peace and unity among Muslims and denounces attacks on the community as seen recently at mosques in Malmesbury and Durban.

It was adopted by about 25 organisations including the International Peace College of SA, the Muslim Youth Movement and the SA Muslims Network, Jam’eyyatul Qurra’, Gatesville Mosque and Centre, Claremont Main Road Mosque, Al-Ansaar Radio, Al Ansaar Foundation, and the Al Ghazali Mosque and Centre, on Sunday June 3.

It acknowledges the right of each person to follow a religion of their choice as a basic human right and assesses the importance of social stability and peace.

The accord also appeals to communities to be tolerant of the differences of opinion between Muslims and not to escalate intra-faith hostilities.

It strives to uphold the dignity of Muslims and the positive image of Islam and calls all South African Muslims to protect, promote and advance this image.

However, the MJC said the accord was a mere moral agreement and did not bind anyone legally to the peace agreement.

MJC general secretary, Sheikh Isgaak Taliep, said the South African constitution provides enough advocacy for human rights to be upheld and that if anyone felt that their rights were infringed upon, they could take up the matter with the Constitutional Court.

He said the accord contains vague statements and needs a lot more explanation. “We feel that the Cape Accord did not adequately and broadly consult with Ulam bodies, the community and organisations, is surrounded by contextual inconsistencies, and contains textual flaws and ambiguities. The MJC remains sincerely committed to mutual respect, tolerance and social cohesion, and will unequivocally advocate against and denounce sectarianism, hate speech, violence and abuse,” said Sheikh Taliep.

He said people should rather focus on being moral citizens of the country and abide by its laws, and if there are any discrepancies it should be handled in a legal manner.

“The Cape Accord understands why we have not signed it. All that we can do as citizens is be good citizens of our country,” he said.

Spokesman for the Cape Accord, Sataar Parker, said after the Cape Accord was finalised they approached the Muslim Judicial Council as the first Ulam (community) body. “We do, however, respect their decision and we will continue to liaise with them.”