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United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week: Racism Ends With Me

On the 4th of February, I was invited on behalf of ACWAY and the Muslim community to speak on the issue of racism at the Holocaust museum in Cape Town. I shared the panel with Rabbi Greg Alexander of Temple Israel and Dr Karen Barenshe of United Religions Initiative. The conversation was fruitful, as many people from different religious, linguistic, generational, ethnic and racial backgrounds engaged with issue of race that is considered still prevalent in South Africa.The discourse broadly touched on religion, spirituality, Apartheid, blackness, white supremacy and feminism.

The main goals were:

– Discussing faith/religion and interfaith dialogue in our current South African context.
– Sharing Intra-faith (Islam, Judaism and Christianity) dialogue experiences as well as interfaith.
– Discussing the legacy of Apartheid and the racism that it was founded on.
– Bringing about positive change through social engagement across the divide within communities.

This was an interesting experience being invited by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies as the Muslim representative to speak about racism within the South African community, especially in this current climate that we find ourselves in. This panel discussion was quite interesting with the discourse tending to an inter-generational and inter-racial discussion about the current context.

The partners:

– South African Jewish Board Of Deputies (Cape Town) Partners (Representative)
– Institute for Justice and Reconciliation: Building an Inclusive Society (Stanley Henkeman)
– Temple Israel: Cape Town Progressive Jewish Congregation (Rabbi Greg Alexander)
– United Religions Initiative: Southern Africa (Dr Karen Barensche)
– ACWAY: A Common Word Among the Youth (Uzair Ben Ebrahim)

Owing to the nature of South Africans response to the Israel-Palestine conflict, I was made aware that Muslims have stopped participating in discussions with Jews. This saddened me, as part of my motivation for ACWAY was to increase interaction between Muslims and Jews in South Africa.

Thereafter, there were personal engagements with the audience. This allowed the panellists to engage further with the audience, and it was during this segment that I understood how important these conversations are. I made it a necessity to try and engage with as many audience members as I could.

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