By Al Qalam Reporter
Several leading Islamic organizations have defended their stance to back the BRICS Summit in the country and explained to Al Qalam why they felt the timing was not right to support calls for visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be arrested for “war crimes allegedly committed in Jammu and Kashmir.
“There is a time and a place to fight the fight but this is not the time” said Solly Suleman, Chairman of the Durban-based Minara Chamber of Commerce in an interview with Al Qalam.
The call to arrest Modi was made by The South African Kashmiri Action Group and the Muslim Lawyers’ Association (MLA), but The National Prosecuting Authority rejected the “war crimes” claims saying the allegations were “inadequate”.
Attorney Yousha Tayob of the Muslim Lawyers Association’s said the association did not oppose development, but believed it was important for SA to consider the kind of leaders it invited to the country, such as Modi, whose Government was allegedly waging wanton human rights abuses in the largely Muslim majority regions.
However, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) sent out an urgent press release saying the Muslim community of South Africa “joins fellow South Africans in welcoming the arrival of the BRICS delegates to our shores and country.” Three other Islamic bodies were signatories to the statement, namely Minara Business Chamber, Awqaf (SA) and the South Africa Muslim Network (SAMNET).
The MJC statement read: “We believe that the hosting of the summit will encourage investment into the African continent, and more specifically South Africa, at a moment when our country needs it the most to combat the impact of poverty and inequality. We also believe that BRICS has a vital role to play in establishing more equitable economic growth among member countries.
Asked by Al Qalam to further explain its stance, MJC’s media spokesperson, Mishka Daries, said: “Over 2000 delegates have flown to South Africa to attend the summit ranging from media, civil forums, mining and engineering, education, health and business. These delegates ultimately play an active role in shaping the development agenda of the emerging economies.
“Investment in South Africa is vital if we are going to combat the challenges of unemployment and high cost of living”.
Asked why SAMNET did not call for the arrest of Modi, the chairperson of the activist group, Dr Feisal Suleman said: “Supporting the hosting of BRICS by the South African government does not equate in our opinion to minimising or ignoring the role of some of the leaders from BRICS nations in Humans rights abuses and conflicts affecting other nations and in particular Muslim communities in Chechnya, China, Kashmir, India, Yemen and Syria”.
Suleman said the South African Government as well as those leaders (accused of human rights violations) have been aware – and have been put on notice – that their actions are well known and they will reach a stage where they could face prosecution for their crimes.
“It is now up to the South African community to raise these issues in the media, raise these issues with our government so our government can raise and take up these issues within BRICS and within the UN Security council.
“It’s not enough that we forget about the actions once these leaders return to their homes. It is up to the communities, especially the South African community, to register and join political organisations and political parties to ensure that they raise these issues through the various structures right into Parliament. It is also when Muslims vote and have direct representatives in Parliament that they can these issues in the National assembly and various portfolio committees.
“There is no contradiction between supporting the hosting of BRICS while at the same time speaking out against the human rights abuses committed by many of the leaders of the BRICS nations,” he added.
Solly Suleman, chairman of the Minara Chamber of Commerce told Al Qalam that as a business chamber that has the interest of the entire South African Community, its priority was growth in the economy, job creation and poverty alleviation etc.
“There is a time and a place to fight the fight but this is not the time,” he emphasized.
He added: “Muslims make up over 20% of the population in India and it could compromise their future as well.
“Already we have a challenge with Islamphobia and all we need now is to be accused of compromising the entire BRICS Summit which we hope is beneficial to all who live in this beautiful country of ours,” he said.