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Religious groups denounce desecration of South Africa Muslim Cemetery

Members of the Muslim community attempt to salvage what is left of desecrated graves at the Mowbray Cemetery

Cape Town -The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) is calling on families who have recently buried loved ones at the Mowbray Cemetery to come forward and identify their graves.

This comes after around 70-80 graves were desecrated overnight, with the headstones removed and placed in the symbol of a cross at the upper end of the cemetery.

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Sheikh Riad Fataar, second deputy president of the MJC and chair of the MJC’s Muslim Cemetery Board, said the graves affected are all of recent burials.

“This is very traumatic for the community,” Fataar said. “Those people who are going through the pain of losing loved ones, we now have to call them back again to identify where the grave is to put back the headstone.”

While grave diggers were able to identify where some of the moved headstones belong, they are asking community members to come and ensure each headstone is returned on its correct grave.

Stuart Diamond, director of the Cape South African Jewish Board of Deputies, condemned the attack and called it Islamophobic.

Diamond said the fact that headstones were removed and placed in the symbol of a cross is “beyond appalling and is an indication of a carefully planned attack by fundamentalists”.

Nkosi Zwelivelile of the Royal House of Mandela in the Eastern Cape also expressed shock.

“The violation of this sacred space is an evil act and an offence of not only religious sensibility but a violation of the values of peace, respect and dignity accorded to all citizens by our constitution.”

“While we are seeing it is made out in a cross, we are not going to say it’s Christians who did this,” Fataar said.

A spokesman of the Woodstock police, Colonel Andre Traut confirmed that police are investigating the matter.

“Woodstock police are investigating a malicious damage to property case relating the damages caused to graves at the Mowbray cemetery,” he said.

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