‘I am Muhammad, not Charlie’

Blasphemy and vulgarity must stop was the message from religious leaders at Athlone Stadium, where thousands of Muslims gathered to celebrate the life of Prophet Muhammad.

Dressed in white, young and old, male and female bowed their heads on Sunday and kneeled in prayer.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille told the audience that the event has been celebrated in South Africa since the 17th century.

“When we are able to witness thousands of people gathering to celebrate an auspicious religious occasion such as today, we feel increasingly confident in our efforts to create spaces for people to express their beliefs.”

She added that all religious movements have an important part to play by decrying the wrongs in society.

“Islam is renowned for the value and importance it places on compassion.

Sheikh Achmat Taheer Mohamed, a lecturer from the Madina Institute and an imam at the Vangate Mosque, said the day was to commemorate, celebrate and remember Prophet Muhammad’s way of life.

“You will never find a Muslim saying or writing anything against any other religion.

“If you have found anything of that kind, you know that it is not Islam, because it is not what is preached by Islam.

“If you look into the history of Islam you will find that there is no such record where Muslims had blasphemed against any other religion.”

He added that cartoons about Prophet Muhammad, such as those featured in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo where 12 people were murdered recently, was only done to aggravate “the masses”.

“We know that whatever cartoon or things that are done is only creating more love and more awareness of Prophet Muhammad.

“When 9/11 took place, people blamed Islam. A cousin of mine who was in the US said when people went to libraries to find copies of the Qur’an they couldn’t find any copies. Why? Because people became curious about what Islam was all about.

“And so, basically, this is an advertisement. We don’t worry about it, don’t get angry about it, we say let them carry on, we need to do what we need to do. We spread the love and we spread the love of Prophet Muhammad.”

Sheikh Abdurahmaan Alexander said he supported freedom of speech.

“In solidarity with 1.7 billion Muslims around the world, we support the freedom of speech, but we do not support blasphemy. We do not support vulgarity, and as they said, ‘I am Charlie’, I’m saying to you in one voice, I am Muhammad.

“We support freedom of speech. We want world peace. Blasphemy and vulgarity must stop.”

Source: IOL