(AA) – Muslim clerics in South Africa have vowed to continue speaking out against the Daesh militant group, despite threats from suspected Daesh sympathizers.
“We have no fear but to expose the truth because we are not doing anything wrong whatsoever,” Moulana Shabbier Ahmed Saloojee, the principal of Darul Uloom Zakariyya, South Africa’s largest Muslim school, told The Anadolu Agency in an interview.
Saloojee said he had recently received a threatening phone call after speaking out against Daesh.
“I received a phone call recently telling me to be careful,” he said, while vowing to continue exposing the “truth” about Daesh in an effort to dissuade South Africans from sympathizing or joining the notorious group.
According to sources, a number of other Muslim clerics have received similar threats after speaking out against Daesh but have refrained from reporting them to the authorities.
“[Daesh] doesn’t represent Islam,” insisted Moulana Saloojee.
He said that most recognized Muslim scholars had distanced themselves from the group.
Thousands of foreign fighters – hailing from all over the world – are believed to have recently joined Daesh, which currently controls large swathes of territory in both Syria and Iraq.
Moulana Ebrahim Bham, secretary-general of the Jamiatul Ulama (Council of Muslim Scholars) said all mainstream Muslim organizations in South Africa had condemned Daesh’s activities.
He said it was also important for people to look at reasons why Daesh had attracted so many followers.
“[Daesh] stands condemned by the United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA) as a misguided political enigma, which has distorted the teachings of Islam,” the group said in a recent media statement.
“Its duplicity is only outmatched by its savagery and barbarity. It has divided and weakened the Muslim world, legitimized murder in the name of Islam and shifted focus from actual hotspots around the globe,” it asserted.
South African Muslims are estimated to account for about 2.5 percent of South Africa’s population of over 50 million.
Last week, South African Minister of State Security David Mahlobo told reporters that a 15-year-old girl had been removed from a plane in Cape Town on suspicions that she was en route to join Daesh.
The girl, whose identity was not revealed because she is a minor, had disappeared earlier from her parents’ home.
But the family has since denied reports that they had alerted the authorities that their daughter planned to join Daesh.
Authorities are still investigating how the girl was recruited by the militant group – who arranged funding for her air ticket – and whether there might be a Daesh sleeper cell in the country.
In the past, there have been several unconfirmed reports of South African nationals travelling to Iraq and Syria to join Daesh.
Last year, Iraqi Ambassador to Pretoria Hushaim al-Alawi told AA that South Africans were reportedly being recruited to join the militant group.
A local migrant leader in Johannesburg’s Mayfair suburb reported seeing at least one motorist driving with a Daesh flag through the city’s streets.
“There is a car that has been driving through our community bearing the flag of Daesh,” Amir Sheik, chairman of the Somali Community Board, told AA.
The suburb is nicknamed “little Mogadishu” because of its large Somali Muslim population.