The Daily Maverick’s retraction and apology for their bogus exposé about Al Qaeda being alive and well in South Africa has been welcomed by South African Muslims. Wrought with discrepancies and outright lies it was a most damaging allegation which at the very least exposed media houses and their journalists for what Julius Malema termed aptly: ‘tjatjarag’ Islamophobia.
South African Muslims; their mosques; their business interests; expat Muslims in SA, and the Dockrat family were all tarnished by the fraudulent exposé. Whilst an apology may have been in order, the Daily Maverick had no other leg to stand on. South African Muslims have been part of South Africa since 1652. Our struggle for basic freedoms, human dignity and from the dragons of apartheid watered the very soil of this new South Africa. Our toil for all types of freedom, peace and equality are far too precious to be damned by careless journalists.
Journalist and media house retractions are nothing new. While recent cases of plagiarism have been leveled and tried against well-known personalities like Time columnist, CNN host, and Washington Post writer, Fareed Zakaria and South Africa’s own Darrel Bristow-Bovey, De Wet Potgieter’s allegations tipped the scales. They were lies, intended to fuel not only Islamophobia but also government and police ministry impotence. The ‘exclusive’ that ran all day on EWN was intended to breed fear, xenophobic backlash and clearly in the disinterests of building harmony in South Africa.
Potgieter’s year-long investigation, revealed [sic] “surprising inaction by police despite incriminating evidence about secret military training camps and sophisticated sniper training at three well-documented locations as well as several others across South Africa.”
At its base, the retracted article quoted extensively from Professor Hussein Solomon from the Department of Political Studies and Governance at the University of the Free State. While his academic integrity remained on the line in 2010, when Professor Solomon was ‘convinced ’ al-Qaeda intended attacking and targeting the Fifa World Cup, this calls for culling his academic integrity altogether.
Now that the damning allegations have been to set to rest, South African’s still seek answers from State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, who has been quoted as saying “through our regular assessments, we’ve become aware that some South Africans are actively linked to some elements which are linked to some terrorist activities elsewhere, particularly al-Qaeda.”
Further, retractions and apologies are in order from Independent Newspapers who also propagated the bogus allegations, and DA spokeswoman Dianne Kohler-Barnard, who immediately jumped on the bandwagon to discredit the Hawks based on claims from an untruthful report: “These are extremely serious allegations, with both national security and international relations implications, and cannot be ignored. Minister Mthethwa must appear in Parliament to provide clarity on this situation,” she said.
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