Court bid to block Bible burning

A court interdict is being sought to stop a man from burning Bibles at the Library Gardens in Johannesburg, in protest against a plan by a US pastor to burn the Islamic holy book, the Koran.

Attorney Zahir Omar, representing a Gauteng-based organisation, the Scholars of the Truth, said he was seeking an interdict at the High Court in Johannesburg on Friday afternoon to halt the burning of the Bibles.

"This will be action taken by South Africans in South Africa to stop this man from disrupting peaceful religious relations in the country," Omar said.

Mohammed Vawda planned to burn the bibles in the Johannesburg CBD on Saturday afternoon and declare September 11 "Bible burning day" in South Africa.

Omar said he planned to argue that Vawda would be inciting violence through his action, which constituted blasphemy.

Vawda refused to comment when contacted on Friday, saying the matter was sub judice and he would be able to talk after the hearing.

Pastor Terry Jones in Florida in the US drew widespread condemnation for his plans to burn the Koran to commemorate the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington. He has since called off his plans.

The Muslim Judicial Council in South Africa has reportedly called on Jones to get to know the Koran a bit better before burning it.

Imtiaz Suliman, of the prominent Islamic relief organisation Gift of the Givers, appealed for calm heads.

He urged South Africans to "ignore this man and not give him attention".

"Leave him to God," Suliman said.

"Real people of religion don't carry out acts that create conflict... real people of religion bring about compassion, understanding and patience."

  • Mohammed Vawda earlier this year appeared in court when a colleague, Willem Harmse, tried to interdict him from using the words "shoot the boer" on posters in a planned crime march. The interdict was granted and the words were banned. Attorney Zahir Omar also acted in this case, representing Harmse against Vawda.