Tourism outlook on Mosque vandalism
Donald Trump is about to be sworn into the White House and his election unleashed a new wave of anti-Muslim sentiment. Donald Trump has promised to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Economists have projected that Donald Trump’s Muslim ban would have cost the US £12bn a year. September 11 had the biggest impact on Muslim tourism, as the terrorist attacks led to Muslims increasingly diverting their travel away from destinations that they consider not to be Muslim friendly. The United States and Europe have increasingly become Muslim tourism unfriendly. The normalisation of acts of terrorism has been primarily associated with Muslims faith, which is an unfreedom as it must be associated with the individual concerned.
The Preamble to the Constitution said ‘’South Africa belongs all who live in in, united in their diversity’’. Muslims are great South Africans that must consider the acts of vandalism as an unnecessary provocation. I was shocked to hear on the news that the Nurul Islam Mosque had been discovered vandalised with a pig’s snout and blood on the doorway to the mosque. The mosque is a top tourist attraction in Simons Town, which celebrated its centenary in 2011. Muslims are not permitted to consume pork, and it’s regarded as a dirty animal by the faith, therefore the pig snout was a deliberate act of provocation. I have been taught that never react to provocation, because that means you are giving your power to the provocateur, giving legitimacy to their well-coordinated evil deems.
To add insults to injury, the Kalk Bay Mosque was attacked within three days, as part of a well-coordinated strategy to provoke Muslims and create a fertile ground for conflict. The Masjidul-Jamiah in Kalk Bay had its pulpit damaged and had blood spread around the mosque. In 2016, a handful of backward hardened racists protested the planned construction of a mosque in Valhalla, in Pretoria. The then ANC mayor of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality Sputla Ramokgopa did not give audience to their racist petition against the construction of the mosque. The Western Cape Government understanding that such acts are intended to polarise society and destroy social cohesion between communities had condemned such acts.
An attack on mosques is an attack on the tourism industry of the Western Cape. An attack on any mosque should be seen as a pre-meditated attack on Robben Island as the World Heritage Site has a longer Muslim heritage than a liberation struggle heritage. A journal article titled, Robben Island: The Early Years of Muslim Resistance, indicates that Achmat of Ternate was the first Muslim to be imprisoned at Robben Island from 1723-1788, whilst the karamat or shrine erected on Robben Island was in honour of Sheikh of Madura, hailing from the island of Madura, north-east of Java. The Muslims played a leading role in the development of Afrikaans as a language, before the first Afrikaans bible publication around 1930-1933 from Dutch.
South Africa is considered to be a Muslim-friendly country and Muslim tourism has enormous potential that can be exploited to ensure that South Africans benefit from jobs and economic growth. For every 8 tourists that come to South Africa, one permanent job is created. South African with a 27% unemployment rate has led to many social problems, whilst economic growth rate not exceeding 0%, remains too low an economic growth to create the highly needed jobs. Tourism remains the light in these times of doom and gloom as tourism is the new gold. It has for the past 10 years created more jobs that mining and attracts more foreign exchange than mining.
Whilst mining, agriculture and manufacturing continue in their consistency in losing jobs through mechanisation, the labour intensive nature of tourism means that the growth of tourist arrivals leads to an automatic growth in jobs. Tourist arrivals in South Africa increased by 14% in 2017. Tourism had a 3% direct contribution to the GDP according to the Tourism Satellite Account. Without tourism arrivals, our balance of payment deficit would have been greater, meaning that our current account deficit as a percentage of GDP would have been much greater without the contribution of tourism.
The Muslim tourism market was estimated to be US126,1 billion in outbound expenditure not including core religious travel expenditure of Hajj and Umrah according to DinarStandard & Crescent Rating. The growth trajectory of Muslim tourism is expected to grow as Muslim increasingly come from fast growing economies that include BRICS countries such as China and India. An attack on mosques, is an attack on the tourism industry. You are warned, you will be caught!
Unathi Sonwabile Henama teaches tourism at Tshwane University of Technology and writes in his personal capacity.