IT WAS a scene of unity at St Mark’s Church last night, where Christians and Muslims united under one roof, a stark contrast to the scene in the Gaza Strip where blood is being shed between religions.
Muslim cleric Sheikh Shamiel Panday likened the situation in the Middle East to a child being locked up without food, toys or friends. “If you abuse a child, I think he has a right eventually to resist,” he said.
Panday was invited to participate in a dialogue with the Cape Road church’s pastor, Reverend Bruce Woolard, who asked some tough questions.
Last week, Woolard interviewed David Abel, a leader in the Jewish community, on Israel’s right to exist, and Panday was called upon to respond with the Islamic perspective.
Panday, a Palestinian awareness activist for the past 20 years, formed part of the Africa 1 Gaza Aid convoy which took supplies to Gaza.
After being denied entry, they eventually entered with food and medical supplies through Egypt.
This proved that the Gaza tunnels were necessary. “It is the only way to get food and medical equipment there,” he said.
“Israel decides where, when and how much food can be taken into Gaza. One truck is not enough.” Panday said Gaza had been given to the Islamic nation, yet Israel still dictated what was allowed into the country.
He said there was no airport and the borders were closed.
“Nothing comes in without the permission of the Zionists. That is not living.
“The situation there brings tears to my eyes.
“We have seen lots of destruction. Hospitals and mosques are being destroyed.”
Panday blamed the Israelis for the ongoing conflict, noting that if all the deaths were taken into consideration, it meant that at least one Palestinian had been killed every day since 1948.
“Israel is in breach of more than 100 resolutions.
“They want us to go back to the same status quo as before World War 2. A two-state solution is not what we can agree upon.
“We want one country for Muslims, Christians and Jews to live in as chosen people.
“Every human being is chosen. We have souls that come from God himself.
“That is why the land should be for all the people.”
In response to Woolard pointing out that Jews had also been killed because of the violence, Panday said the Muslims were bound to retaliate.
“Four [Muslim] children playing on a beach last week were shot down.
“We don’t teach their siblings or parents to hate, but it is natural for them to grow up believing the [Jews] are the enemy. The Zionists are taught to hate.”
Regarding the 3000-plus rockets fired into Israel, Panday said this was the only means of resisting the occupation. “We are suffering, hungry people.” – Kathryn Kimberley