War of words over Bin Laden accusation

2013-10-06 10:00

Durban businessman Yusuf Deedat stalked Mahmood Amra, the director of his late father’s Islamic Propagation Centre International, with flyers bearing Osama bin Laden’s picture in a bid to make Amra resign from his post.

Amra, an optometrist and failed ANC local government candidate, made the claims – and distanced himself from Bin Laden – in papers before the Durban Magistrates’ Court in his bid to secure a restraining order against Deedat.

Deedat has until Thursday to respond to Amra’s allegations, failing which a protection order will be granted against him in terms of the Protection from Harassment Act.

Amra wants the court to stop Deedat, whose father Sheik Ahmed Deedat founded the centre in 1958, from publishing or distributing flyers attacking him.

He also wants the order, if granted, to prevent Deedat from sending threatening or abusive emails and SMSes, and placing flyers or other materials about him at his business premises or residence.

Ahmed Deedat, a fiery Muslim cleric famed for his televised debates with Christians, built the Islamic Propagation Centre premises on Durban’s Queen Street in the 1980s with a $1?million donation from slain al-Qaeda leader Bin Laden.

In papers before the court, Amra said he and his family have been subjected to a “hate campaign” and “harassment of epic proportions” by Deedat, who he says also uses the media against him.

Amra said in court papers that Deedat blames him for a book called Ahmed Deedat: The Man and his Mission.

It was written by Goolam Vahed and published by the centre, and Deedat believes it discredits his late father.

Amra said in his papers that in June Deedat prevented two book launches in the Middle East and started sending Amra SMSes instructing him to resign from the centre by June this year or “face a campaign”.

The messages continued until June 28. On July 2, A4 posters accusing Amra of being a liar and questioning his honesty towards his patients were posted on the door of his practice.

The posters accused Amra of being racist in converting Africans to Islam. He said the posters contained his mobile phone number and encouraged Muslim readers to call him.

The next day the poster, now A3 in size, reappeared, followed by SMSes threatening that “day by day, the flyer will grow until it reaches the size of a billboard”.

Amra said in his court application that new flyers attacking him were distributed at mosques in Verulam and Durban.

One, distributed at night during Ramadan, contained “a picture of Osama bin Laden, who is internationally recognised as a terrorist”.

Amra said: “I unequivocally condemn in the strongest terms any association of my good name or person with that of Osama bin Laden.

“I detest the employment of this subtle association and its subliminal effects on the mind of the reader.”

The harassment, he says, is adversely affecting his wife, who is on dialysis treatment; his daughter, who is a South African chess champion; as well as his business and standing in Durban and Verulam.

Amra said while he is unable to put a figure on the damage to his reputation and existing and future business endeavours, the harassment had been of a “formidable magnitude”.

Deedat, who is representing himself, told City Press he would respond by the deadline.

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