Those who picked up a booklet entitled “Vaccination: The Devil’s Medicine” in the Oriental Plaza recently will have read the following in the introductory section:
”The two fundamental components of vaccination are Filth and Poison. Vaccination is part of a massive conspiracy of the Yahood [Jews] to incapacitate and decimate the populations of Africa and Asia. It is a satanic tool employed by the Satanist conspirators of the Western World in their long-term devilish plot to exterminate a huge segment of mankind in their pursuit of attaining global domination and laying their evil clutches on the wealth and natural resources of the stupid peoples of the so-called Third World countries — Arabs, Africans and Asians.”
The booklet was published by the Mujlisul Ulama of South Africa, a Port Elizabeth-based Islamic think-tank. Looking at other articles published on its website (few of which, incidentally, make disparaging references to Jews or other faith groups), the organisation can be characterised — very euphemistically — as ”ultra-conservative”. Among many the other things its contributors deem to be ”haraam” — taboo — wedding dresses, nursery schools, chess, being photographed, soft drinks, singing, musical instruments radio and street marches.
Perhaps, then, the above assertion that vaccinations are part of an evil Jewish plot to enslave the world might simply be dismissed as the ravings of a radical fringe group. Unfortunately, this is neither a rare nor isolated case of rabid anti-Jewish conspiracy theorising emerging from within the organised Muslim community. Why, for example, has the Jamiatul Ulama — Council of Muslim Theologians (KwaZulu-Natal) — posted the article “Why are Jews persecuted?” by Jayne Gardener on its website? Must we assume from this that the organisation endorses Gardener when she writes: “I found out about the Jewish history of avariciousness, larceny, lying, manipulation and their questionable and usurious business practices … if everyone who sees this information passes it on to at least one other person, the crimes and misdeeds of the Jewish supremacists and Zionists will be exposed”?
Just a few days ago, Channel Islam International once again hosted the ultra-right wing conspiracy theorist Daryl Bradford-Smith on one of its programmes. It was the usual farrago of charges against the world Jewish criminal mafia, encouraged and endorsed by the show’s host. How was it possible, a caller asked, that the world allowed ”murdering butchers to get away with killing innocent people with their bombings” and how long would this go on before they were charged and brought to justice? Bradford-Smith had the answer, of course: “It will go on as long as people don’t realise how the world works, how there’s an overriding control by international bankers and corporate fascists and the Jewish community around the world that is in charge of media and the rest, employing their resources to run the world. They run the judiciary, they run the court in the Hague.”
It is one thing for this kind of stuff to be put out by nut-ball individuals, who one finds in every racial, religious or ethnic group. It is much more concerning, however, when it has behind it the imprimatur of an actual institution, be they theological councils, radio stations or think-tanks.
Speaking at an event to mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of Holocaust victims last month, SA Human Rights Commission chief executive Kayum Ahmed acknowledged the extent to which anti-Semitic discourse had become mainstream within the Muslim community: “My understanding of the (Middle-East) region was from what I’d learned from the imams and sheikhs in Mosque — there was a simple message; all Jews are bad and evil and they were killing our Muslim brothers in Palestine. And on occasion when the imam got particularly worked up he’d say ‘more Jews should have been killed in the Holocaust.’ ”
All this being said, that Muslims themselves are often subjected to revolting libels can hardly be denied, as I can attest merely from the kind of things that arrive in my inbox from time to time. One of these claimed that certain Muslim theologians now permitted sodomy in cases where it was necessary to widen the anus of a suicide terrorist to allow for the concealment of explosives. Another asserted that according to a new ruling, a Muslim man was allowed to have sexual intercourse with his dead wife, so long as it was only a few hours after her death. No doubt, others would be able to cite numerous other examples.
In my very first Thought Leader post, I focused on the very remarkable fact that in comparison with even Western democratic countries like Australia, the UK, France and Canada, levels of anti-Semitism in South Africa were extraordinarily low. Over the past 20 years and more, the number of anti-Jewish acts in such countries had consistently been anything from 10 to more than 20 times higher than in South Africa. Happily, and despite the depths of anti-Jewish sentiment within certain sectors of their population, this remains the case. It surely says something about the society we still are, even today, when the over-optimistic (if somewhat cloying) ”Rainbow Nation” culture has long since dissipated and racial suspicion and mutual resentment seems to be re-emerging from all sides.