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The imam who died fighting racism in South Africa


Relatives and friends of an imam who died 50 years ago while opposing racism in South Africa are still traumatised by his death, writes the BBC's Penny Dale.


Two momentous events occurred in Cape Town in South Africa on 29 September 1969.


The first was a huge funeral march - some 40,000 people carried the coffin of Imam Abdullah Haron for about 10km (six miles) to his final resting place in Mowbray Muslim Cemetery.


And at night a rare and massive earthquake shook the earth.


For many who attended the funeral these two events are indelibly connected - they say the death of the pioneering 45-year-old South African imam was so painful and so shocking.


Imam Haron died in a police cell on 27 September, after 123 days of solitary confinement and daily interrogations about his involvement in the struggle against the racist system of apartheid, which ended in 1994 with the election of Nelson Mandela as South Africa's first black president.


Imam Haron was the first cleric of any faith to die in custody under the apartheid regime. His death signalled that even men of God were not safe from an increasingly repressive, white-supremacist state.


The artist named after the imam


His death caused global outrage, and he became the first Muslim to be commemorated at the famous St Paul's Cathedral in London.

The security police said he died after falling down a flight of stairs.


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