South African Zionist Federation condemns violent disruption of Christian prayer rally in Cape Town: SA government must take action against Pro-Palestine groups threatening right to freedom of assembly 

In a shocking display of intolerance and aggression, the Concerned Clergy Western Cape’s peaceful march and prayer rally for Israel, which aimed to bring together individuals from diverse faiths, was forcibly shut down by the South African Police Service (SAPS) due to safety concerns arising from the unwarranted presence of Hamas supporters.

The pro-rape, pro-murder and pro-torture group of protestors, adorned with flags associated with Hamas, Hezbollah and ISIS, arrived without the necessary permit for a protest, demonstrating a blatant disregard for the rule of law. Upon being instructed to disperse, their response was not only non-compliant but escalated into a violent confrontation. The extremists engaged in physical abuse and launched objects at law enforcement officials, calling for the use of stun grenades and water cannons to restore order.

The South African Zionist Federation Cape Council Chairperson, David Cohen, stated they had wanted to stand with their Christian Zionist friends to “pray for peace and the return of the 239 hostages” currently being held captive by Hamas.

“The fact is that a democracy is judged on how well it protects the rights of all of its citizens, even those who do not share the opinions of the government. 50 000 people marched on Saturday in Cape Town chanting slogans for Palestine. I can assure you, no one there was worried that it was going to be broken up by pro-Israel forces. We condemn the violence perpetrated yesterday and call on all levels of government, from municipal to national, to join us in condemning the use of violence and intimidation to prevent the free gathering of people in this democracy,” said Cohen.

It is deeply regrettable that the actions of this anti-peace faction led to the cancellation of the prayer rally, forcing attendees to be escorted away from the scene out of concern for their safety. A number of Christian women were severely traumatised after being physically assaulted and followed by Pro-Palestinian men. Members of the Jewish community intervened quickly, to remove them from the area using separate vehicles. Sadly, a number of Christians left the prayer rally with physical injuries. The Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis, condemned this atrocity (sound clip available here).

The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) firmly emphasises that freedom of speech and peaceful assembly are fundamental rights protected by the South African Constitution. While the Concerned Clergy Western Cape sought to exercise these rights in organising a diverse and inclusive prayer rally, the disruptive actions of the Hamas supporters flagrantly violated these principles.

Hamas, notorious for suppressing freedom of speech in Gaza, has begun to instil the same oppressive behaviour in South Africa. The SAZF calls on SAPS officials to act quickly to investigate the perpetrators of this violence, in order to hold them accountable for their actions. It is imperative that our police service protect the rights of all South Africans to engage in peaceful assembly and free speech without fear of intimidation or violence. 

In the face of this disturbing incident, the SAZF calls on all South Africans, from all political, cultural and religious backgrounds to unite against extremism and violence, standing together in defence of the values that underpin our democratic society.