Group to welcome Muslim fans

2010-04-23 00:00

A DIVERSE mix of South African Muslims have united to form a national initiative aimed at welcoming Muslim visitors to the country during the Fifa 2010 World Cup tournament.

The group, known as SA Muslims 2010, is expecting to welcome about 80 000 Muslims to South Africa during the competition, being held from June 11 to July 11.

SA Muslims 2010 will be arranging meet-and-greet sessions at touch points in all of the host cities and providing the visitors with useful information.

During the meet-and-greet sessions, Muslim volunteers will be distributing goodie bags, which will contain, among other things, a guide to prayer times, mosque locations, the availability of halaal food outlets and other information.

The group was founded in Durban in October 2009 as the initiative of a few prominent Muslim figures in the community, including theologians and businessmen. Once the group had been launched, it took its idea to the Muslim communities from all of the country’s World Cup host cities.

As a result, every host city in the country now has a SA Muslims 2010 committee that will be carrying out a welcoming plan.

Ahmed Shaikh, a member of the SA Muslims 2010 committee in Durban, said the initiative intends to move beyond its primary aim of welcoming fellow Muslims to the country, and intends to show the hundreds of thousands of other tourists in the country during the World Cup how South African Muslims co-exist peacefully with other communities.

Shaikh said, “European countries are currently facing difficulties with regard to the integration and assimilation of expatriate communities.

“I think South Africans share a proud history of a multicultural society post-1994. We have found a good balance between racial, cultural and religious differences, and we have a duty to reflect that it is possible for people with diverse backgrounds to live together.”

The organisation will also be setting up “nerve centres”, which will serve as administrative facilities and information points for Muslims during the World Cup.

They will also be hosting Muslim exhibitions that will display arts and crafts, offer Muslim foods and feature other aspects of Muslim culture.

The Durban nerve centre will be based at the Orient Islamic School, and its exhibition will run from June 10 to June 17.

The convener of SA Muslims 2010 in Durban, Ahmed Saeed Moola, said: “The nerve centre will be the ideal place for Muslims to further their points of contact with each other.

“Muslim visitors will be able to obtain any information they might need, and gain valuable insight into the South African Muslim culture.”

Volunteers wishing to offer their services to SA Muslims 2010 should visit the website www.samuslims2010.net

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