By Hassan Isilow
Marching Sunday, hundreds of South Africans called on the international community to end Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians, as well as the ongoing persecution of minority Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
‘‘We also used our freedom march to remember other oppressed and suffering people of the world, including those in Kashmir, Yemen, and Somalia among others,’’ protest organizer Ismail Moola told Anadolu Agency.
He said their march also remembered the 1980s Sabra and Shatila massacres in Lebanese refugee camps.
On Sept. 16, 1982, the right-wing Christian Phalange militia stormed the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in West Beirut and began a massacre which ended with the deaths of hundreds of mostly Palestinian civilians.
About 600 people participated in Sunday’s march in the town of lenasia, south of Johannesburg. Marchers chanted “Free Palestine,” and most of them waved Palestinian flags.
“We condemned the continued oppression of Palestine by Israel and call on the UN to end this oppression,” said former anti-apartheid activist Ram Salojee.
He also condemned the ongoing nuclear weapons being developed in some countries, calling them a threat to international security.
Israel has occupied Palestinian territories for five decades, and in recent years it has allowed increased construction of Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands.
Prayers for late Muslim Brotherhood leader
Meanwhile, a group of Egyptian expats participating in the walk carried out Muslim funeral prayers for the late Mohammed Mahdi Akef, a former supreme guide of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, who died Friday in a Cairo hospital, age 89.
“There were very few people allowed at Akef’s [Janaza Salaah] funeral service, so we decided to hold funeral prayers for him,’’ said Ahmed Jamal, a leader of the Egyptian community in South Africa.
Scores of people both men and women lined up to perform the Muslim funeral prayers at an open field at Rose Park in Lenasia.
Born in 1928, Akef headed the Muslim Brotherhood from 2004 to 2010, when he was replaced by Mohamed Badie, the group’s current leader, who is now serving a jail sentence.
Akef was among hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members arrested after the 2013 coup against Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president.
Sentenced to 25 years behind bars in a court ruling that was later overturned, Akef was in the middle of a retrial at the time of his death.