Religions come together

2018-12-04 06:00
From left are Gwynne Robins (Jew), Dr Taj Hargey (Muslim), Lavona Jales (Christian), Riyaanah Slamang (Muslim) and Mandy McDonald (Christian) during the Interfaith Barbecue. PHOTO: Nomzamo Yuku

From left are Gwynne Robins (Jew), Dr Taj Hargey (Muslim), Lavona Jales (Christian), Riyaanah Slamang (Muslim) and Mandy McDonald (Christian) during the Interfaith Barbecue. PHOTO: Nomzamo Yuku

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More than 100 people from different religions across Cape Town gathered and broke bread at the biannual Interfaith Barbecue held on Sunday 25 November, at Rustenburg Girls’ High in Rosebank.

The Open Mosque, a Wynberg-based organisation, prepared a variety of different dishes to accommodate everyone. The gathering was designed to be a family event set up outside so guests could enjoy the beautiful warm weather.

Organisers say the event has shown tremendous growth since it started four years ago, and is thus a “sign” of their success in spreading a message of peace, love and unity among everyone in the community.

All the speakers denounced discrimination based on religion and beliefs.

Groups in attendance included Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Baha’is, Atheists, Humanists, Secularists and Traditionalists. Attendees were encouraged to swap seats, speak to people they had never met before and make new friends, and most of them said they liked the idea.

Gloria Mkhwanazi said: “I am a Christian and I had never paid attention to any other religion, so I am enjoying this. It is quite a lovely environment to meet and learn about other people’s beliefs. I wish it could spread across and get more people involved. In that way we can be sure to have a respectful society that would actually create a meaningful example of democracy.”

Dr Taj Hargey, president of The Open Mosque, said the growth in numbers of attendees gives hope that there will one day be no place for discrimination.

He advised people to support their initiatives, saying the more people attend the easier it will be to spread their message.

Hargey said that in a society where there is so much violence, people need to be united and fight the social ills.

“Although this is an Islamic initiative, no proselytising or conversion by any faith will be countenanced. It is primarily a unique community bonding and cordial social networking opportunity so that Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Baha’is, Atheists, Humanists, Secularists, Traditionalists and other inhabitants of the Mother City can get to know each other and to establish potential links and fruitful relationships,” Jamila Abrahams, secretary of The Open Mosque, added.

Gwynne Robins, a deputy director at Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies, said their organisation has a mutual vision with The Open Mosque, hence they always partner to get involved in the initiative.

She said it promotes interfaith and interracial acceptance and tolerance.

“South Africa belongs to all who live in it and we need to accept each other as equal citizens no matter where or how we pray. And the best way of doing that is being given opportunities like this one to meet different people and to talk to them.”

The Jewish Board of Deputies is currently running a No Place for Hate campaign within their denominations.

For more information about The Open Mosque, visit www.theopenmosque.org.za.

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