Arrest of Pretoria Men Raises Questions About Presence of Islamic Extremism

August 9, 2004

Source: The New York Times

On August 9, 2004 The New York Times reported, "A string of international arrests of South African citizens, followed by sensational reports in the last week of terrorist plots against tourism and financial sites, is raising new questions about the depth of Islamic extremism in a country known for its racial and religious tolerance. South Africans were jolted all last week by banner headlines about terrorism, most stemming from the arrests on July 25 of two Pretoria-area men during a raid on a suspected hide-out for Al Qaeda in Gujrat, Pakistan... By some accounts last week, however, the May expulsions and the July arrests were both part of a larger Qaeda operation in South Africa. That is raising uncomfortable questions in a country that has lately considered Islamic terrorism to be Kenya and Tanzania's problem, not South Africa's... Only 2 percent of South Africa's 45 million people are Muslim. An overwhelming majority of them - blacks and ethnic Indians, concentrated in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban - embrace a moderate, tolerant form of Islam, Mr. Gastrow said. But among a small - some say growing - number of adherents, extremism has flourished."

See also: Islam, International