Court bid to stop Bible burning in Johannesburg

2010-09-10 13:00

A court interdict has been sought to stop a local man from burning bibles at the Library Gardens in Johannesburg. The man planned to burn the bibles as a protest against a plan by a US pastor to burn the Islamic holy book, the Koran.

Attorney Zehir Omar, representing a Gauteng-based organisation, the Scholars of the Truth, said he was seeking an interdict at the High Court in Johannesburg this afternoon to halt the burning of the bibles.

“This will be action taken by South Africans in South Africa to stop this man from disrupting peaceful religious relations in the country,” Omar said.

Mohammed Vawda planned to burn the bibles tomorrow afternoon and declare September 11 “Bible burning day” in South Africa.

Omar said he planned to argue that Vawda would be inciting violence through his action, which constituted blasphemy.

Vawda refused to comment when contacted, saying the matter was sub judice and he would talk after the hearing.

Earlier this year Vawda appeared in court after a colleague, Willem Harmse, tried to interdict him from using the words “shoot the boer” on posters in a planned crime march.

The interdict was granted and the words “shoot the boer” were banned.

Omar represented Harmse in that case too.

Pastor Terry Jones in Florida in the US drew widespread condemnation for his now-suspended plans to burn the Koran to commemorate the September 11 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.

The Muslim Judicial Council in South Africa has called on Jones to get to know the Koran better before burning it.

Spokesperson Nabeweya Mallick said despite it being called off, the threat to burn the Koran was a concern as it showed the “extreme views” that persisted.

“We hope that they realise their actions do nothing good for mankind. Right now if you look at the world, at natural disasters for instance, if we are faced with any challenge we stand together,” she said.

She added that the bid to burn the bible in South Africa was contrary to Islamic teachings and the Koran.

Imtiaz Suliman, of the prominent Islamic relief organisation, Gift of the Givers, appealed for calm heads over Jones’ plans. He urged South Africans to “ignore this man and not give him attention”.

“Leave him to God,” he said.

“Real people of religion don’t carry out acts that create conflict. Real people of religion bring about compassion, understanding and patience.”

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