South Africa’s police minister Bheki Cele has apologised for a “blasphemous” comment made by a policeman to praying Muslims as he was implementing lockdown guidelines.
The apology, issued on Sunday by the minister via a press release, got here after the occasion was caught on video.
The photographs, posted on social media and authenticated by the authorities, present police coming into a room on Saturday the place about 20 Muslims had been praying, and ordering them to the bottom.
One of many police is heard saying: “Are you larger than the president? Is Muhammad larger than the president?”
Cele stated he “issued an apology to the Muslim neighborhood for the blasphemous remarks in the course of the arrest” and an “pressing investigation” was launched “to ascertain the identification of the individual behind such sacrilege” within the incident which occurred within the Mpumalanga province.
In a separate assertion, the police stated the policeman’s remark was “moderately unlucky and it’s unacceptable that somebody might make such an utterance”.
It additionally stated that individuals of all religions needed to respect guidelines in the course of the confinement. On Friday, police had already detained 17 individuals at a non secular ceremony for violating lockdown guidelines.
The Jamiatul Ulama South Africa Council of Muslim Theologians stated not solely had been the remarks “demeaning within the title of the Prophet Muhammad”, however police coming into a prayer room with “their heavy boots”, as seen within the video, was “distressing to Muslims who contemplate prayer locations as sacred”.
The Council additionally reminded Muslims to watch lockdown guidelines.
The incident occurred as South Africans are beneath orders to watch strict confinement to combat the unfold of the coronavirus, and are allowed to depart their properties solely to purchase meals or for medical appointments.
All different gatherings are strictly prohibited.
South Africa is the worst-hit sub-Saharan nation by the coronavirus outbreak. Greater than 85 individuals have died amid greater than 4,350 infections, in line with information from Johns Hopkins College.
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