The South African Muslim community on Friday showed admiration to the Turkish government and people for assisting them in renovating a mosque in the historic township of Soweto.
“On behalf of the community of Soweto, we are grateful and appreciate the help and support that the Turkish government has given us in renovating our mosque,” Luqmaan Mogapi, head of communications at the Masjidul Umma in Soweto, told Anadolu Agency in an interview.
He also expressed his gratitude to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his government's generosity.
The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) renovated the entire Soweto mosque in Johannesburg Metropolitan after a request from the Muslims community leaders.
The TIKA completed much of its renovations in late 2019, and people are flocking to pray there, but it has yet to be officially inaugurated.
In 2002, the mosque in the Dlamini neighborhood was severely damaged when suspected right-wing extremists bombed a nearby area.
The mosque built in 1984 was the first in Soweto, a historic township that has been home to many anti-apartheid activists, including the late President Nelson Mandela.
“The late Winnie Mandela (Nelson Mandela’s wife) was our guest of honor at the opening of this mosque in August 1986,” Mogapi said.
The mosque's current Imam, Ali Abu Musa Mandiwa, recalls that the mosque's former Imam narrowly escaped death when the bomb exploded.
When asked why the mosque was targeted by a right-wing white extremist group, he stated, "It was a senseless attack because the mosque had nothing to do with government or politics."
Right-wing extremists attempted to destabilize South Africa shortly after the country achieved democracy, bringing an end to the brutal apartheid regime in 1994.
Mogapi said that they intend to visit some of the right-wing members imprisoned for bombing parts of Soweto, including their mosque.
“We will give them copies of the Quran, the Muslims’ holy book, and they may accept Islam, and when they are released, they may become imams and preach peace,” he said./aa