‘When Muslims move in, they expand’ – anti-mosque protesters in Pretoria

Pretoria – Despite thousands of people signing a petition against the building of a mosque in the Pretoria suburb of Valhalla, the construction will be going ahead.

Cheers and whoops of joy filled the hall inside the Vallies Park Primary School on Wednesday when Tshwane metro Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa officially handed over the land earmarked for the development.

As Ramokgopa handed over the title deeds at Vallies Park Primary School to the local Muslim community, a handful of protesters picketed outside.

One man held up a poster stating: “Paris, Brussels, Valhalla??? [sic] NO!”

Another thrust his brown cardboard placard toward the camera declaring: “GEEN ISIS IN VALHALLA [No ISIS in Valhalla]”

Yet another stated: “INIAN NEIGHBOURS YES MUSLIM INVASION NO” One presumes the man was referring to persons of “Indian” descent.

Freedom Front Plus Councillor Sakkie du Plooy, who supports the bid to keep the mosque out of Valhalla, told News24 that residents in the area have no problem with Muslims but they had three particular gripes. The first was the manner of the public participation process which he claimed saw residents not being given sufficient time to plan for meetings.

The second was the matter of parking.

The third is what has led to many people labelling the protesters as racists and Islamophobes.

 “This is a Christian Afrikaner community... We have no problem with people moving in but if there is an effort to take over then we have a problem.”

Du Plooy said he had spoken to two Indian people who had moved from Erasmia to Valhalla after a mosque was built and Muslims began moving into Erasmia.

He said, should the mosque be built in Valhalla, residents will immediately start selling their homes because they wouldn’t be able to bear the “noise” from the mosque. Du Plooy was referring to the daily call to prayer also known as Azaan.

The councillor said there is a “perception that Muslims kill... there are perceptions about ISIS [Islamic State]...

“Muslims from Valhalla read the same Qur’an as Muslims from Pakistan...”

Du Plooy insisted, however, that “we Afrikaners get along very well with people.”

“We [Afrikaners] get along very well with black people,” Du Plooy said.  

He insisted that Valhalla Afrikaners didn’t oppose other religions, it was simply “when Muslims occupy [an area] they expand”.  

But Mayor Ramokgopa had no time for the protesters, saying: "If your petition is to stop the Muslim community, your petition will be defeated."

“Objections to the Valhala Muslim community land donation were based on racial motivations. And in @CityTshwane we need social cohesion,” Ramokgopa tweeted on Tuesday.

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