South Africans of different faiths on Monday condemned rising incidents of Islamophobia and racism globally in the wake of the recent attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
‘‘Islamophobia should be addressed by all religious and racial groups because Muslims now live in fear wherever they go,” Pauline Naidoo, president of the Hindu Maha Sabha community, told an audience in Johannesburg.
She said leaders in western countries should educate their citizens about the cultures of racial and religious communities living in their midst to help stem the increasing hatred and attacks.
‘‘We should appreciate the freedoms we have in our country, but we should never believe that South Africa is immune to such attacks of white supremacists,” Ismail Vadi, a board member of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, said in his address.
Vadi, who is also Gauteng province’s minister of transport, said some white supremacists had emigrated from Europe to South Africa, where they are now allegedly training white South African farmers on how to protect themselves.
White farmers in South Africa say they are facing genocide and are being attacked and killed by organized criminals, a claim the government denies.
Vadi urged South Africans to take action against racism in their communities whenever such incidents occur.
‘‘We need a Greenpeace movement against racism in our country,” he said.
‘‘We must never allow the stigmatization of any community because this breeds hatred against a community,” Moulana Ebrahim Bham, secretary general of the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa (Council of Muslim Theologians), said in his address.
He said right-wing politicians in western countries have been spreading hatred against Islam since the 9/11 attacks in the United States by generalizing Muslims as ‘terrorists’.
“Such actions legitimize violence against Muslims or a whole community,” he said.
Bham said as much as the Muslim community condemns the recent terrorist attacks on the two mosques in New Zealand, they also appreciate the unity shown by the people of New Zealand, who stood together with Muslims during their period of mourning.
“Our moments of darkness call on us as humanity to unite,” a representative of the South African Council of Churches said in his solidarity message to the Muslim community.
A member of the South African Human Rights Commission said racism and other forms of hate were punishable by the country’s laws.
“We mourn the lives of those who were killed in the houses of worship,” Rabbi Sa’ar Shaked of the Beit Emanuel Progressive Synagogue said, adding those responsible for the Christchurch mosque attacks had the same ideology as those who attacked a synagogue in the United States.
“We will not stop acting in unity. They won’t divide us,” he said.
At least 50 Muslims were killed and as many injured earlier this month when a terrorist -- identified as Australian-born Brenton Tarrant -- entered the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand and shot worshippers in cold blood, including four children younger than 18.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the atrocity as one of the darkest days in New Zealand. The terrorist attack is the country’s most deadliest mass shooting in history.