Abeer Zayyad’s tour has successfully shined the light on what is exactly going on in Palestine and Masjid Al-Aqsa
South Africa – Archaeologist and historical expert, Abeer Ahmed Zayyad’s recent tour across South Africa has had a profound impact on communities as she shared her personal experiences and insights about life in Palestine, particularly focusing on the defense of Masjid Al-Aqsa. The tour included engagements with various groups, including youth organisations and educational institutions, where Zayyad effectively dispelled damaging narratives and highlighted the humanitarian aspect of the Palestinian issue.
Zayyad’s ability to bring together diverse activist groups and her expertise as a historian and archaeologist made the tour highly successful. From Durban to Gqeberha and Nelspruit, her presence left a lasting impression, fostering a deep love for Palestine among the South African community.
On Wednesday, 10 May, Zayyad was in Lenasia where she was hosted by the Palestinian Solidarity Alliance (PSA). In the community meeting, Zayyad shared stories of her personal life as well as life in Palestine and what it meant to defend Masjid Al-Aqsa. She also spent time with members of the PSA in what was an eye opening conversation, explained Noor Ahmed, member of the PSA.
“We engaged with her privately beforehand at one of the PSA’s members’ homes and it was so inspiring to hear her stories and hear everything she had to say. I feel like, especially as young people, listening to all of her stories that she shared about her young brother and nephews being arrested and detained while at Masjid Al-Aqsa, it is so important for use to hear these stories and firsthand accounts of all the atrocities that Israel commits against the people of Palestine. I felt this passion to continue this work we are doing, to continue raising our voices for the people of Palestine.”
For Ahmed, it was also heartwarming and inspiring to see the youth show up for these meetings. The PSA needs young blood and to see the youth so passionate about Palestine is a great sign for the PSA. The older generation needs to help the youth come through the ranks and educate them on what it means to be an activist.
SMread: Abeer Zayyad – A timeline of the Message from Al-Aqsa tour
How Zayyad’s tour to Durban helped destroy a damaging narrative
Durban was blessed to be the third stop on her ‘Message From Al-Aqsa’ tour. On Friday, May 12, Zayyad spent her time speaking to the youth of Al Falaah College before speaking heading over to Crescent Girls High School. For Dr. Shabier Omar, People Against Oppression, it was important for these events to take place in Durban which is why he was happy to help coordinate it.
“Abeer brought to the floor a personal account. In this age of globalisation and multimedia, we are constantly bombarded with media daily. We receive videos and that is very important but to put a human face to it … it brings a different dynamic. I think the personal point that she brought across was very important and with it came, not just a person from Palestine, she came with up to date relevant and current information. She could tackle any question because of her expertise as a historian and as an archeologist. Her personal touch to this programme is what made highly successful.”
Omar also credited Zayyad for being able to bring the various activist groups together, something which is not easily done. The way she carried herself and the person she is, made it easy to have everyone under one roof. Another key issue was Zayyad and other religious figures were able to erase the narrative that Palestine is just a Muslim issue. It is a humanitarian issue.
SMread: Abeer Zayyad – Message from Al-Aqsa delivered in Cape Town
Zayyad educating the young and the old in Gqeberha
Zayyad’s trip to Gqeberha, Tuesday May 16, was facilitated by Yasmeen Dadiwala, who worked with the Muslim Students Association and the young hearts of Palestine, amongst others. Dadiwala previously met Zayyad when she visited Palestine. When she learnt from Zayyad that she would be touring South Africa, she made sure Zayyad would come to her town.
“I met sister Abeer on a few occasions in Palestine. The last one being this past Ramadan. She mentioned she was coming down with Salaamedia and I said you have to come visit our city. It was an honour to have her around and for me to be her personal chauffeur as well for that entire day. The interaction we had, personally compared to the programme, there was so much she had said. The stories she had told us personally brought tears to our eyes and others made us laugh.”
Whenever there was a protest for Palestine, the people of Gqeberha were there. They made their voices known and heard which is why the turnout was phenomenal, said Dadiwala.
“We had a lot of people that attended. Obviously the information that sister Abeer gave us, it was very informative and insightful … There were about 250 students that attended the meeting in Malabar and that was between the four schools.”
SMread: Abeer Zayyad ‘Message From Al-Aqsa’ tour unveils harsh realities
Nelspruit and its impact on Zayyad
Last but certainly not least and a last minute addition to the tour was the lovely city of Nelspruit. Although it is a little town and things are done differently from the big cities, it is still very much involved in the liberation of Masjid Al-Aqsa, said Firoza Omar, resident of Nelspruit. One of the highlights of the trip was when they met Zayyad at the airport. One of the rural schools was so interested in getting to know Palestine that they came along to pick up Zayyad.
“This shows that there are people who know about Palestine. They just need to be tweaked in and told about Palestine. They came along and welcomed sister Abeer and she was so touched by this … We visited our madressah and it has been so actively involved, for the last 10 years, in the knowledge of Masjid Al-Aqsa that our children were so excited to ask her all of these questions. Sister Abeer was taken aback by this huge project of ours that is being built for the last few years and improved all the time.”
Zayyad answered every question the little ones asked, even the ones Omar didn’t feel were worth answering. To Zayyad it showed that there is activism in the town and the young ones will grow up to be the greatest supporters of Palestine. Her time in Nelspruit also included a night in the Kruger National Park in which she was lucky enough to see the wildlife.
The ‘Message From Al-Aqsa’ tour has shed light on what is exactly happening in Palestine. Zayyad brought with her real life experience and first hand knowledge on everything that has happened and is happening. A one of a kind tour, she educated the young and the old, creating this deep love for Palestine within their hearts. Her presence will be sorely missed but she has left a mark on the South African community that few could ever do.
To hear more from the various partners who helped make this tour a reality and hosted Abeer Zayyad, listen to the podcast here: