2 dead in South Africa mosque stabbing, attacker killed

Clerics emerge after visiting a Malmesbury mosque, 50 kilometers north of Cape Town, where two worshippers were stabbed dead. (AFP)
Updated 14 June 2018
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2 dead in South Africa mosque stabbing, attacker killed

MALMESBURY, South Africa: A man stabbed two people to death and wounded two others in an attack at a mosque in South Africa on Thursday, before being shot dead by police, officers said.
Police have surrounded the building in Malmesbury near Cape Town outside which a body lay under a tree and a penknife had been discarded nearby, said an AFP correspondent at the scene. The attacker’s motive remains unclear.
It comes just a month after a deadly stabbing at another South African mosque which police said had “elements of extremism” and left an Islamic leader dead.
Police were alerted by early morning worshippers and arrived at Malmesbury’s mosque to find two people had died of stab wounds, Noloyiso Rwexana, spokeswoman for the Western Cape police, said.
Two other people were wounded and are being treated in hospital.
“The suspect, believed to be in his thirties and armed with a knife, charged at the police who tried to persuade him to hand himself over,” she said.
“He ignored the calls and tried to attack police. He was shot dead.”
Rwexana said police are now “combing the scene for clues.”
Local media said the suspect was Somali, but police have not confirmed this.
The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), which represents the Muslim community in South Africa, said it was “shocked to the core” over the incident, which came at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
The MJC appealed to the community to not jump to conclusions about the attacker’s motives and said its top leadership would travel to the area to assist the community.
It comes a month after an attack at a mosque in the town of Verulam, on the outskirts of the eastern port city of Durban.
Three unidentified assailants killed a Mosque leader on May 10 by slitting his throat and injured two others after midday prayers.
The assailants in that attack, who also set off a petrol bomb inside the mosque, escaped in a car and remain at large.
Their motive remains unclear, but a police spokesman said at the time that the attack had “elements of extremism. It shows hatred toward the worshippers.”
The Verulam attack was a watershed moment for South Africa, where about 1.5 percent of the country’s 55 million population is Muslim.
Asked if Thursday’s attack was the first of its kind in the region, police spokesman lieutenant colonel Andre Traut said: “I can’t recall of another incident, but all possibilities are being investigated.”
“It’s way too soon to speculate as to a possible motive — or link with any other incident in the country,” he told the eNCA broadcaster.
The country prides itself on religious tolerance and has been spared the extremist attacks that have dogged other countries on the African continent.
Neighboring Mozambique has been rocked by a wave of attacks blamed on militants in recent months.
Since October around 30 people have been killed with knives and machetes in the country’s far north, a region that has been earmarked as a potential hub for natural gas exploration.


Taste of kindness: Buddhist monks serve iftar at a Dhaka monastery

Updated 21 May 2019
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Taste of kindness: Buddhist monks serve iftar at a Dhaka monastery

  • The monastery’s generosity has not gone unnoticed by the fasting Muslims

DHAKA: As the clock strikes 6 p.m., Shudhhanondo Mohathero hurries to the kitchen to alert his army of 15 monks that they have less than 40 minutes until iftar. 

Soon, people will begin queuing outside the Dharmarajika Bouddha Bihar, a Buddhist monastery in Dhaka, where Mohathero hands out free food packs to fasting Muslims who are too poor to buy a meal to end their fast.

It is a tradition that 89-year-old Mohathero started 10 years ago when he assumed responsibility for the temple’s upkeep.

“Since the early days of the monastery, we have received tremendous support in celebrating different Buddhist festivals from our Muslim friends. So I thought it’s time to do something in return,” Mohathero told Arab News.

Built in 1951, the monastery, which is located in Basabo in the eastern part of Dhaka, has been involved in various social welfare activities. Since the start of Ramadan this year, almost 200 food packs have been doled out every day, with plans to double the number by the end of the month. The 15 monks who live in the monastery prepare the food boxes for iftar.

At a cost of around 80 cents, which is funded by the temple, each box contains traditional Bangladeshi iftar items such as puffed rice, boiled and seasoned chickpeas, jilapi (a deep-fried sweet pastry), beguni (deep-fried eggplant) and dal bora (a fried item with smashed lentils and dates).

“In previous years, our junior monks used to prepare iftar at the monastery. This year, however, we are starting to outsource the items due to the sheer volume,” Mohathero said. 

“Since the early days of the monastery, we have received tremendous support in celebrating different Buddhist festivals from our Muslim friends. So I thought it’s time to do something in return.”

Shudhhanondo Mohathero, Chief monk of Dhaka’s Buddhist Monastery

The monastery’s generosity has not gone unnoticed by the fasting Muslims.

“I have been receiving iftar from the monastery for three years. Since my husband works as a daily-wage laborer, this iftar has made our lives very comfortable,” Asma Khatun, a local resident, said.

Another devotee, Sharif Hossain, said that iftar from the monastery “is like a divine blessing.”

“After losing all my properties in a river erosion, I moved to Dhaka just a few months ago and started living in a slum. I can finally feed my family with the iftar provided by the monks,” he said. 

Talking about his experience being part of a project that builds communal harmony, Prantar Borua, an apprentice monk at the temple, said: “We feel proud and happy to be doing such an extraordinary thing. It’s a small contribution to the community, but it’s the best we can do at this moment.”

The monastery’s generosity has won praise from the Bangladesh authorities, too.

“It’s a nice initiative from the Buddhist community, especially at a time when the world is experiencing many hate crimes and interreligious conflicts. It upholds the spirit of religious harmony,” Abdul Hamid Jomaddar, joint secretary of the Religious Affairs Ministry, said.

“Our government believes in the coexistence of different religions, which is the beauty of this secular land,” he added.