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August 31, 2001
South Africans launch anti-apartheid movement against Israel
South Africans launched an International Anti-Apartheid Movement against Israel this afternoon after one of the largest marches South Africa has seen in recent times, reports Ahmed Versi from Durban.
Over 30,000 people marched on the International Convention Centre (ICC) where 15 Heads of States were opening the World Conference Against Racism. The march, orgainsed by the South African NGO Coalition (Sangoco), was attended, in addition to the South African NGOs, by NGOs from all over the world and ordinary people from Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg.
The launch took place at a rally after the march where speeches dealing with various issues were delivered. The issue of land for the landless, anti-privatisation, reparations for salvery, HIV/AIDS, poverty, easy access to basic services like water and electricity.
Naeem Jeenah, member of the Co-ordinating Committee of the Palestine Solidarity Committee (based in Durban) explained to The Muslim News that the PSC spearheaded the issue of Palestine in the community and managed to have it included in the march held today. “The Palestinian issue has been adopted by all groups as their own,” he said. He added that, for example, the Landless Peoples Assembley included a Palestinian speaker in their meeting to speak on the Palestinian landless people. In addition, four days ago, Congress of South Africa Trade Union held a protest march against the USA outside their embassy in Pretoria took up the issue of Zionism is Racism.
Over 600 Muslims from Cape Town, hired a train to attend the marcch and the rally. Mustafa Jonker, 22, a Law student at the University of South African in Cape Town, told The Muslim News of the importance Muslims of Cape Town gave to the Palestinian issue. “It took us almost two days to reach Durban. We ant to show the world that Muslims are united in supporting the Palestinian people. We will raise this issue at every UN conference.” Shaykh Ibrahim Gabriels, President of Cape Town’s Muslim Judicial Council, who had sponsored the train journey, said it was “important to raise the issue of Palestine because the USA had threatened to boycott the conference if Zionism is equated with racism”. He told The Muslim News, “Zionism is worse form of racism in the world today.”
Manar Faraj, 15-year-old girl from Dheisheh camp in Palestine, talked about the experiences of Palestinian people under occupation. Alluding to the immigration of Jews from Russia to Israel and Occupied Territories, she told the rally, “The Russians took my home, they took my land”. Faraj blamed the UN for the suffering of her people. “Our problem is Kofi Annan,” she said. Faraj said emotionally on the landless Palestinian people: “To lose your land is to lose part of yourself and this part is your heart.” She told the cheering crowd, “Let us struggle together because we have a common issue: racism and Zionism”. Raising a key in her hand, she pledged to return to her home in Israel: “I promise to return to my village and will open my house with this key”, she said defyingly.
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