Dear Na'eem Jeenah and Jane Duncan,
Can The Freedom of Expression Institute ensure that Prof Hussein Solomon is not allowed to speak in South Africa?
Updated Press Release: SA Muslim community vilified in presentation at counter-terrorism conference
SA Muslim community vilified in presentation at counter-terrorism conference
Media Review Network is outraged at the defamatory statements made by Professor Hussein Solomon during a presentation at the 7th International Conference of the International Institute for Counter Terrorism in Herzliya, Israel on 10 September 2007.
Hussein Solomon’s was speaking in his capacity as director of the Centre for International Political Study (CiPS) at the University of Pretoria.
During this presentation Solomons claimed:
* South African Muslim organizations, mosques and the Muslim media were psychologically preparing local Muslims for terrorism;
* military training is occurring at various South African Muslim high schools;
* Muslims were a potential threat to the 2010 World Cup;
* South African madressahs (religious schools) were a breeding ground for terrorism;
He went on to state that the local Muslim community was “volatile” and would provide safe-houses and money to potential terrorists.
Nowhere in his 25 minute presentation on “radical” Islam in South Africa, did Solomon provide any shred of evidence to substantiate his distortions and wild allegations.
Solomon’s irresponsible claims unjustly sustain the misconception that Islam and SA Muslims are a threat to domestic and world peace. This erroneous perception leads to the unfair profiling of Islamic schools, charities and religious organizations, and creates a climate where all Muslims are feared and despised.
The content of Prof. Solomon’s presentation vilifies the entire Muslim community of South Africa, and is one of the most rabid forms of Islamophobia ever encountered. That the conference hosts and fellow speakers allowed such baseless allegations to masquerade as an academic presentation reveals the deep-seated anti-Islamic sentiments of this gathering.
Solomon’s participation at this anti-Muslim conference in apartheid Israel alongside known Islamophobes and Muslim-bashers such as Steven Emerson, Daniel Pipes, Binyamin Netanyahu, Reuven Paz and others is an indication of his role in fuelling alarm and suspicion against Muslims in SA.
We believe that Solomons has an obligation to provide indisputable evidence to back-up his incriminating allegations or to retract and apologise. If Solomons persists in making these incredible allegations we demand that Professor Solomon substantiate his contemptible claims, and explain to the Muslim community of this country how he arrived at such ludicrous conclusions.
Suraya Dadoo (Researcher Media Review Network)
TIMESONLINE (From The Times February 4, 2008)
Sean O’Neill, Crime and Security Editor
South Africans may be required to obtain visas to visit Britain under moves to close routes exploited by people-smugglers and terrorists.
Law enforcement agencies have been putting pressure on ministers to overhaul immigration rules that allow South African passport holders to enter Britain without a visa and stay for six months.
The Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) recently smashed a people-smuggling gang that brought more than 6,000 illegal immigrants into Britain on forged or stolen South African passports.
Intelligence services and anti-terrorist police have also shut an al-Qaeda cell, members of which had been travelling to terrorist training camps in Pakistan via southern Africa.
With 450,000 South African nationals entering Britain annually it has proved relatively easy for terrorists and illegal migrants to go undetected.
Sir Stephen Lander, chairman of Soca, has been pressing for a tightened visa regime in the wake of the people-smuggling case, codenamed Operation Coptine. He told MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee that the case was “likely to lead to the reintroduction of a visa regime”. The Home Office confirmed that it is looking at the situation.
The five-year operation against people-smugglers — which involved agencies in South Africa, the United States and Canada — resulted in the convictions of more than 40 people.
They were members of a gang operating out of Leicester which, over a decade, smuggled people out of villages in Gujarat, India, to South Africa, where they were supplied with false or stolen passports.
The migrants, who paid the gang between £5,000 and £8,000 each, were then brought to Britain where many registered as students or found work. About a quarter of the illegals acquired British passports under different identities for travel to the United States and Canada.
One woman arrived in Britain using a fraudulently obtained South African passport in the name of Swati Mistry. She was subsequently detected trying to fly to Orlando, Florida, from Gatwick airport using a false British passport in the name Fazila Saleh.
Yusuf Mewaswala, 49, the leader of the gang, received a ten-year jail sentence — his third conviction for people-smuggling — but is believed to have made millions of pounds in profit from his operation.
Others convicted included specialist forgers and facilitators, and men and women who were paid £1,000 each to act as couriers accompanying the illegal migrants on transatlantic flights.
Details of the alleged terror cell — which is also understood to have exploited lax controls — linked to South Africa cannot be revealed at present for legal reasons.
Intelligence experts are concerned that al-Qaeda has been using South Africa as a support base for training and fundraising for operations elsewhere. JOHN SOLOMON, Head of Terrorism Research for World-Check, has studied the terrorist presence in South Africa and concluded that there was “a discernible pattern” of activity.
He said: “Prominent global jihadis . . . have used southern Africa as a possible medium through which not only to stage operations, but also to secure refuge, money and recruits.”
A British terror suspect, Haroon Rashid Aswat, was held in Zambia in 2005. Aswat, a former lieutenant of Abu Hamza al-Masri, is believed to have been hiding in southern Africa and may have had links to an al-Qaeda support network. He is in Britain awaiting US extradition proceedings.
The Home Office confirmed that Liam Byrne, the Immigration Minister, was reviewing the visa arrangements for South Africa and a number of other countries outside the European Economic Area. The review is expected to conclude later this year.
MPs are to be asked to give ministers powers to order an inquest to sit without a jury or to appoint a coroner to prevent sensitive information from being disclosed. Provisions in the counter-terrorism Bill would allow the Home Secretary to intervene in a hearing into a sudden or unexplained death in the interests of national security.
The proposals have generated concern among lawyers and some coroners as such powers are not confined to inquests into the deaths of terrorist suspects.