CAPE TOWN. — The South African Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) on Thursday strongly condemned a brutal attack in which two worshippers were stabbed to death.
The character and nature of the Moslem community in South Africa has always been that of tolerance and respect, and therefore this reprehensible attack has deeply shocked the community, the MJC said.
In the attack that took place in Malmesbury outside Cape Town early Thursday morning, two worshippers were killed and two others injured.
The attack occurred on the final day of Ramadan which is observed by Moslems worldwide as a month of fasting.
According to the MJC, an unknown assailant entered the mosque and joined the congregants in night prayer. Just after 3 am, when the worshippers retreated to rest, the assailant stabbed the Imam first and then attacked the other worshippers who came to the Imam’s defence.
Some congregants gave chase before police attempted to apprehend the suspect. In a hostile attack on the police, the assailant was shot dead.
The MJC said it “condemns this vicious attack in the strongest terms.”
“Islam is not a religion of violence and holds all life sacred,” the council said.
“We request members of the public to allow SAPS (South African Police Service) and the Hawks (Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation) to complete their investigations into the incident,” the council said.
Also on Thursday, National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police that police and the Hawks are taking the attack as a case of priority.
“Of the two deceased who was attacked and killed, one is a Somalian. The attacker is also a Somalian,” Sitole said.
He said police are still investigating the motive for the killing.
This was the second attack on a mosque in the country since May this year.
On May 10, three knife-wielding attackers stormed a mosque in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal Province, killing three worshippers. The suspects, reportedly from Egypt, escaped from the scene before setting the mosque on fire. No arrest has been made.
The motive for the killing is also unknown.
South African authorities have refused to link the mosque attacks with terrorism. They say they need evidence to validate the claim by some religious groups. – Xinhua