Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula urged SA Muslims, scholars and thinkers to find ways to nip extremist ideology in the bud. She gave this stirring address to the IPSA Symposium in Cape Town.
ISIS is about a retrogressive force that has not only established a political state – the Caliphate but has also called on Muslims to immigrate to this land to defend it and assist in its expansion.
Although it has traditions that go against the word and spirit of our lofty South African Constitution, it is doing so in the name of Islam, and could therefore entrap Muslims either as unwilling associates, secret admirers, loyal supporters or shameless bystanders. By being active critics or opponents, the Muslim community will ensure that they are not entrapped.
ISIS, and by virtue of a hyper-alert and fear against Jihadist-terrorist attacks in Europe and America, some Muslim communities in general, have been cast as a priority security threat in the West. If not, as they might say in the movies, “Enemy Number One”. This is by no means the case for our country or my Ministry. ISIS is not a security priority, and there is no specific Muslim community that is a security threat. However, it doesn’t mean there are no security concerns AT ALL.
Let us not beat about the bush. Whether I like it or not, the government security cluster is at the forefront of the pressures by very powerful governments-in-the-world. The so-called “War on Terror’, is an old term now that was adopted formerly by US President George Bush; and I need not elaborate on what it means, only to say that it is now the way of the West. And the pressures we feel as a country, not just my Ministry, as well as all other developing countries who are not classed among those countries of the West, comes through diplomatically, multi-laterally, politically, socially, and by intrigue (domestic and foreign intelligence).
Politically, the pressure comes through political parties in South Africa who have adopted not only the war-on-terror ethos but also the paranoia of an Islamist threat and amplifying Euro-American politics.
Socially, the pressure can be attributed to the media, who adopt western media tropes and import the moral panics of America and Europe.
At a level of intrigue, the pressures to deal with so-called “Islamist threats” can come through official or unofficial channels. Intelligence can be shared with us; it could be leaked to us; and sometimes too, an agency can plant intelligence in our public space. We need to evaluate what is real and what is false; what we must act upon and what is simply a bogey. We are now quite dramatically in the era of alternative truths; or fake news and we cannot allow ourselves to be tripped up by hear-says meant to fuel an alarmist agenda.
The symposium is also billed as Wasatiyyah – the middle, the centre, the “middle way”, or justly balanced. I would argue that essentially the government practise is of Wasatiyyah, neither accepting one or the other extreme. Rather government pursues and continue to pursue and chart the middle road.
The esteemed participants of this Symposium are at the forefront of the very root manifestation of Jihadist shenanigans in this country. You are part of the South African Muslim public. Whether you are actual influencers, is for you to determine. The global Jihadist terror enterprise is driven by the ideology and doctrine cloaked in the theology of Islam. You are the ones at the forefront of exposing this deviant ideology and tripping up this global enterprise.
The West’s rabid policy over the past decade to bomb counties; to kill prominent leaders; to abduct suspects for prolonged detention; or engage in secret surveillance of mosques and imams – are strategies I’m not prepared to evaluate or judge, except to confirm that it is far from my Ministry’s thinking of how to combat Jihadist terrorism (meaning networks of support and cover) in South Africa.
My call to members of the Muslim public, South African Muslim leaders, Muslim scholars, preachers and thinkers in this country, is to apply your minds as to how we can not only respond to manifestations of Jihadist terrorism in this country, but also how to nip it in the bud. I need you to work out how you can advance Muslim traditions that are not destructive, prejudicial, harmful and counter to the well-being of your fellow compatriots, Muslim and non-Muslim, and the lofty principles of our Constitution. I need you to apply your minds on how to counter the theology of ISIS and to keep abreast of who and where this toxic ideology is finding a home and loyal support.
In conclusion, ISIS and the Muslim community is NO ‘enemy number one’ for the security apparatus of this country.
We have major security priorities we have to tackle: the gang wars in the Western Cape have seen adangerous upsurge in recent months; syndicate crime remains a scourge in ourcountry; cross-border crime is ever-prevalent; foreign criminal activity has seen foreign criminal gangs setting up shop in this country; the international drug trade has found an important pipeline through South Africa; this country still suffers from illegal trade in arms; our rich and unique animal and plant kingdoms has opened us up to vicious cross-border poaching operations which we need to smash; and not least of all, the security concern that any security apparatus of any country would have to devote time to: the regime changers and insurrectionists.
I commend you on the organisation of this Symposium. I see this as being of great assistance to you in shaking off the entrapment of ISIS and halting its spread amongst the South African Muslim community.