Cape Town Shia community 'tense' after KZN mosque attack

Hawks investigating 'elements of extremism' but no arrests have been made

Cape Town Shia community 'tense' after KZN mosque attack

14 May 2018

Cape Town's Muslim Shia community is "tense", says Moulana Syed Aftab Haider, after a deadly attack on a Shia mosque in Verulam last week. They are trying to raise money for extra security.

Haider is a moulana at the relatively new Shia mosque in Ottery, Cape Town called the Ahlul Bait Islamic Centre, which was opened in December.

The majority of Muslims in South Africa are Sunni Muslims.

The Imam Hussain Mosque in Old Main Road in Ottawa, Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal was targeted on Thursday by three men, who attacked worshippers before they set it alight.

One person died after his throat was slit while two others, including the mosque's imam, were stabbed.

On Sunday, an apparent explosive device was also discovered inside the mosque underneath the moulana's chair.

The Hawks have since confirmed that it was a bomb and said they are investigating "elements of extremism". No arrests have been made.

"It is creating panic in the community," Haider told News24.

"We are trying to keep as calm as possible," he said.

The Ahlul Bait Mosque complex also has centres in Philippi and Gugulethu, all within Cape Town.

"It is very tense," said Haider.

"All our mosques and centres, and institutions are on alert."

He said the attack in KwaZulu-Natal "has all the hallmarks of extremism", with the physical attacks, the torching of the library and the burning of holy books. Yet equipment, money, and the charity collection box were left untouched.

In a copy of last Friday's Jumuah (afternoon congregational prayer) lecture at the Ottery mosque by one of the worshippers Bashier Rahim, condolences were sent to the family of Abbas Essop, who was killed in the Verulam attack and people were urged to not do anything "crazy".

"Don't react by doing anything crazy. Instead, rather show more mercy to others and to our Muslim community at large and restrain ourselves," he said.