MYM ‘source of inspiration’ to activists – Minister Ebrahim
The Muslim Youth Movement’s track record of lifting the oppressed and the downtrodden from the grips of tyranny was a “source of inspiration” for many young Muslim activists, said deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, Ebrahim Ebrahim at a function to mark the 40th anniversary of the MYM.
Ebrahim was speaking at the NMJ Hall in Durban where he was the main guest speaker.
“The establishment of As Salaam Educational Institute, the South African National Zapata Fund, Association of Muslim Accountants and Lawyers Al Qalam Newspaper and the Islamic Medical Association are all projects of the Muslim Youth Movement and remains a source of inspiration to this day for many young Muslim activists. The Muslim Youth Movement also recognised the marginalization of women and black members in the community and accordingly sought to include them in the activities of the organization”.
Ebrahim said the challenge facing the Muslim Youth in South Africa today was reflective of the challenges facing the wider community.
“As you are aware, the ANC is celebrating its centenary celebrations this year and as the ruling party of a democratic government, it seeks to charter a way forward in order that we consolidate the democratic gains we have achieved over the last decade but also to ensure that the political power that we have won through the ballot box transcends to economic transformation for all our people. In this regard, I believe civil society organizations as well as religious formations have a vibrant role to play.
“It is essential that we understand our struggle for a democratic government. As a minimum, democracy ensures and includes equal and universal adult suffrage majority rule and guarantees of minority rights, freedom from arbitrary arrests and respect for the rule of law, constitutional guarantees of freedom of assembly and expression, civil and political liberation which guarantees to elect those who decide from among real alternatives and a range of social policies in the field of health, education, child care and basic income, political and civil entitlements.
“I have deliberately chosen to raise the above points to illustrate the positive role that the Muslim Youth Movement played in articulating the social, educational, political, and economic expressions of Islam during the most repressive era of the apartheid government”.
Turning to the Arab Awakening, Ebrahim said the Muslim Brotherhood was one of the organisations that inspired the MYM in its formative years.
“We as government have been seized with the North Africa region ever since the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Our principled position in respect of Libya was clear and transparent. We opposed NATO bombings of the country and we actively advocated the Africa Union position of African solutions to African problems.
“Nonetheless, we have recognised the new emergent leadership in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and in our visit to these countries we have offered to assist them on national reconciliation, transitional justice, constitutional building processes and post conflict reconstruction and development of their countries. We have received delegations from the Muslim Brotherhood, Freedom and Justice Party and Al Nahda Party.
He said the ANC was in the process of establishing party-to-party links with these political formations.
“Speaking on the North Africa region, I must express a sense of disappointment with the Muslim youth in particular and the community at large generally with their silence on the rights of the Saharawi people to self determination and independence. Whereas, we are vocal and rightly so, on the rights of the Palestinians, we are not as vocal when it comes to the Polisario Front. The issue of the Saharawi people is a matter of decolonization and they have an equal right to self determination and independence”
“The branches of the ANC have taken up the issues of both, Saharawi and the Palestinians at the policy conference and we expect a strong policy to emerge at the elective conference later this year.
“From an international relations perspective, I wish to encourage the youth to look more closely to Africa and likeminded movements within the continent in order that we contribute positively to a better Africa. You may want to revisit the idea of what the Muslim Youth Movement had initiated many years ago when it established the Southern African Islamic Youth Conference as an attempt to bring likeminded organisations within a common forum.”