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Speaker: Dr Nadeem Mahomed (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, JIAS)

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This presentation provides a critical analysis of two lawsuits in the 1980’s that centre around the complexity of Muslim identity and sectarianism. The presentation has three aims: (a) It will furnish a historical account of the identity and status of a marginalised minority Muslim community within a larger majoritarian Sunni Muslim discourse and community in Cape Town as the backdrop to the legal action. (b) It will demonstrate how the sectarian history and the litigation both consolidated Sunni normativity or orthodoxy as well as provided symbolic victory to the minority Ahmadi community. (c) It will argue that the secular nature of the apartheid legal system and the ostensible Calvinist secularism of the apartheid state was complicated by the jurisdiction of courts to determine matters of a religious nature. In this regard, questions relating to political secularism, civil religion and legal pluralism will be discussed with a view to assessing how forms of identity, belonging and representation were negotiated via the South African legal system.

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