Mus­lim com­mu­nity mourns ‘mar­tyr’

Re­li­gious lead­ers ap­peal for calm in the wake of fa­tal at­tack on KwaZulu-Natal mosque

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - DUN­CAN GUY

IT TOOK feel­ing a knife at his neck for Dur­ban moulana Ali Nchinyane to un­der­stand the mean­ing of “Labayka Ya Hus­sein” (I am at your ser­vice, Oh Hus­sein) – in spite of hav­ing preached it of­ten.

“I fought for my life. I did not want to die,” the young priest said, re­call­ing the mo­ment when three men walked into the Iman Hus­sein mosque at Ot­tawa, near Veru­lam and at­tempted to slit peo­ple’s throats.

Nchinyane was speak­ing at the fu­neral of Assab Es­sop, who did not sur­vive the Thurs­day at­tack that has sent shock­waves through the town.

Dur­ing the Saff prayer ses­sion he strug­gled to stand up af­ter bow­ing in prayer in uni­son with fel­low devo­tees in the park­ing lot of the mosque be­neath a minaret, palm trees and stars. He was still re­cov­er­ing from cuts to the hands and neck.

The build­ing could not be used as it was still a crime scene.

Mourn­ers came from as far as Lon­don as well as all cor­ners of South Africa to pay their re­spects to Es­sop, a me­chanic, fa­ther of two and mem­ber of the con­gre­ga­tion of the mosque a block away from his home.

Another mosque of­fi­cial, Muhammed Ali, was also stabbed dur­ing the at­tack. He was still in the in­ten­sive care unit at Ad­ding­ton Hos­pi­tal when the fu­neral cer­e­mony took place.

Also ab­sent was Es­sop’s mother, Fa­reeda, who is sched­uled to re­turn to Dur­ban from In­done­sia to­day.

She had been on hol­i­day with a friend.

In his brief ad­dress, Ncinyane said that while the Shia branch of Is­lam be­lieved in “a lifestyle of love and revo­lu­tion”, those who at­tacked it would not be for­given.

“And we’ll fight against them. Hus­sein taught us to fight un­til the end. Train your- selves men­tally and phys­i­cally. If some­thing like this re­peats it­self, be ready,” he said.

A num­ber of mul­lahs ad­dressed the fu­neral, high­light­ing that Es­sop’s sta­tus had been el­e­vated to that of a mar­tyr.

The cer­e­mony heard that death was a cost all mem­bers should be will­ing to pay for Is­lamic unity and broth­er­hood.

“We urge our so­ci­ety of Sunni and Shia to be calm, as much as they can,” said one.

“All of our ene­mies are united to de­stroy us, to use us against each other. We should not let them. We should make them dis­ap­pointed. Our en­emy is the Zion­ist regime.”

Deputy mayor of Dur­ban, Fawzia Peer, who was among the mourn­ers, said she be­lieved lo­cals were be­hind it and that it was not an in­ter­na­tional ter­ror in­ci­dent.

“We’ve got some tips. The Hawks are busy with it and I am sure there will be some good news soon.”

Peer con­demned re­li­gious in­tol­er­ance.


Mourn­ers at the fu­neral of Sha­heed Ab­bas Es­sop carry his body. Es­sop was killed at the mosque in Veru­lam yes­ter­day.

Sha­heed Ab­bas Es­sop’s cof­fin.

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