A veritable comedy of errors?

By Iqbal Jassat

No, no, no, I’m not referring to Joey Rusdien and the events at an elite Sandton-based conference on marriage which set off an unprecedented series of challenges for SA’s Ulama. Ulama or Molvis/Muftis, who by the way, happen to belong exclusively to one particular ethnic group: Indian.

While these developments sparked a flurry of claims and counterclaims, revolving around Ramaphosa and the Eidgah; Rusdien and 40000 Hadith; Ahmed Kathrada and his funeral; Al Qalam and its Boycott; Palestinians in Al Quds rose above all their internal divisions to point to Al Aqsa as the key focal point for the Muslim Ummah.

Sadly, while the Palestinians stood up to confront Israel’s military juggernaut, a section of South Africa’s Muslim community revolted against each other – in a pathetic attempt to draw lines in the sand in defense of one group of molvis against another.

Far removed from the noble sanctuary of Al Aqsa, these domestic squabbles elicited angry and ugly messages across many social media platforms. Yet the demands of Al Aqsa on global Muslim Ummah for its protection from the boots of Israel’s illegal military occupation, despite being splashed on mainstream media, seemed to leave the warring factions wanting.

Nevertheless in Palestine, the power of unarmed resistance by men, women and children of the soil paved the path to victory and delivered the noble sanctuary to its rightful custodians.

Fortunately the fallout between molvis is not reflective of the larger Muslim community – neither in terms of numbers nor in terms of ethnicity. Cape Town yet again excelled as its Muslim community took to the streets in huge numbers to protest Israel’s barbarity.

Solidarity with the just demands of Palestinian people also saw pickets, rallies and a host of activities in addition to the Cape Town march. It said to those in Jerusalem who dug their heels in defiance of Israel’s illegal “security” measures, that we stand with you.

It also said to the Arab regimes that our inspiration is drawn from the protestors – young and old – not from those who were ensconced in their gold gilded thrones, unable and unwilling to confront their Zionist “protectors”.

The jokers in the pack, whose conduct left no doubt that Palestine’s freedom struggle cannot depend on them, are the comedians I refer to. They are the unelected despots of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt. Ganging up against Qatar and making outrageous demands while slapping sanctions is turning out to be a poorly thought out script. Poor in judgement and bankrupt in strategy, the Saudi quartet’s comedy of errors is much worse than a lousy joke.

While Palestinians in Occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank stood firmly in defiance of Israel’s violent attempts to subjugate Al Aqsa, the jokers of Riyadh and their allies insisted that their boycott of Qatar will continue to intensify unless Doha moves away from supporting “terrorism”. After initially naming Hamas as one of the groups, Qatar had to abandon in addition to a dozen more ridiculous demands, the Saudi quartet emphasized the term “terrorism”. Bewildering as it sounds, the fact is that their silence on real-time terrorism by Israel’s military in the sacred precincts of Al Aqsa, exposed an agenda driven by a need to cosy-up to Netanyahu’s rightwing regime.

As expected, Qatar has no appetite for undermining its sovereignty – whether voluntarily or under duress – and by taking the squabble back to their Arab cousins, has thus far succeeded in thwarting Saudi designs. Drawn into the foray is America’s dimwit president Donald Trump. His much-vaunted mission to the region where he proudly boasted about putting together an alliance of Arab dictators against Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, is in tatters – thanks to the belligerent stance of his dear friend King Salmon…oops Salman.

The reconfiguration of the Middle East following Obama’s departure has been part of Trump’s foreign policy designs. Moving the American embassy to Jerusalem being one of his campaign promises. Allowing land grab and the expansion of illegal settlements viewed as a profitable enterprise for his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s business interests, but woven into his foreign policy architecture.

Given the daily fallouts from Trump’s ill chosen cabinet – laughable indeed – the US president is turning out to be a huge liability for Israel and the rest of his Arab minions. No wonder he’s referred to as a lame duck.

Joey Rusdien may have sparked a mini crisis within a section of SA Muslims, but the real fallout from the comedy of errors by Trump, Netanyahu and the Saudi quartet remains on track with huge implications for the Muslim world at large.

*Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of the Media Review Network , Johannesburg.

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