Only days after a Neo-Nazi white supremacist massacred six Sikhs in the United States, two bearded Muslims were attacked in South Africa by two white Afrikaners, with one of the Muslims dying.
Mohammed Fayaaz Kazi, 27, was beaten to death in the town of Magaliesburg, about 40 miles northwest of Johannesburg, after insulting his beard and calling him “bin Laden,” in an obvious reference to former al-Qaeda terror chief.
Kazi’s colleague, Ansaar Mahmood, survived the unprovoked attack.
"Two white people... they called him bin Laden in Afrikaans because of his beard," Mahmood told South African media.
"Fayaaz, he understood Afrikaans, and was arguing with them… Nobody helped us. They wanted me dead also, but I survived."
Kazi subsequently died in hospital from a brain hemorrhage.
Magaliesburg is a stronghold for white Afrikaners. The two white mens’ identities have not been revealed.
The murder has sparked widespread condemnation across multi-racial mutli-cultural South Africa.
Ronnie Kasrils, the country's former intelligence minister, blamed the killing on Islamophobia.
"My heartfelt condolences and solidarity to the family of Fayaaz Kazi whose brutal killers must be hunted down and brought to justice," he said in a statement.
"My deepest wishes and speedy recovery to uncle Ansaar Mahmood who was savagely injured in this criminal attack which carries with it the stench of Islamophobia.
Kasrils, a member of the ruling African National Congress party and himself Jewish added: “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.” Media Review Network, a Muslim advocacy group in South Africa has demanded that Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa investigate the killing immediately.
"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," said MRN researcher Ibrahim Vawda.
Religious violence is quite rare in South Africa. Muslims account for only about 1.5 percent of the country’s population.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.