South Africa anger over 'beard and Bin Laden' killing

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South Africans have reacted with outrage to the killing of a Muslim man in an alleged Islamophobic attack.

Two white men beat Mohammed Fayaaz Kazi to death in the town of Magaliesburg, after insulting him over his beard and calling him "Bin Laden", a survivor of the attack, Ansaar Mahmood, said.

Ronnie Kasrils, South Africa's former intelligence minister, said the attack carried the "stench of Islamophobia".

Religious violence in South Africa is rare, analysts say.

A leading South African Muslim advocacy group, the Media Review Network, called on Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to ensure a speedy investigation into the 27-year-old Mr Kazi's death.

Researcher Ibrahim Vawda said there was widespread anger in the Muslim community.

"We strongly urge all members of our community to exercise restraint and patience and to allow the normal process of the law to take its course," he added.

'Nobody helped us'

Mr Mahmood said he and Mr Kazi were attacked on Monday at a chicken outlet in Magaliesburg - a small town in Gauteng province which is a stronghold of Afrikaner supremacists.

Start Quote

May all South Africans unite to stop in its tracks the evil of racist and religious intolerance which is a threat to every South African”

End Quote Ronnie Kasrils Former intelligence minister

"Two white people... they called him [Osama] bin Laden in Afrikaans because of his beard," he said.

They also called them a derogatory term for black Africans, Mr Mahmood said.

He said an argument ensued with the men, who then became violent.

Mr Mahmood said he was beaten unconscious while Mr Kazi was hit over the head with an object and died later in hospital, apparently after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

"Nobody helped us. They wanted me dead also, but I survived," he added.

Police spokesman Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said a murder docket had been opened, the South African Press Association reports.

"After purchasing food from a fast food outlet an argument allegedly broke out between Kazi and two unknown Afrikaner males," he said.

"It is further alleged that the two suspects were mocking Kazi about his long beard."

Mr Kasrils - a prominent Jewish member of South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party - said he hoped the killers would be brought to justice.

"May all South Africans unite to stop in its tracks the evil of racist and religious intolerance which is a threat to every South African regardless of creed, culture and colour," he said.

White minority rule ended in South Africa in 1994, with the election of the ANC government.

Race relations are strained, but violence between different race groups is rarely reported, analysts say.

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