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The South African Military Wants to Fire One of Their Muslim Majors for Wearing a Hijab

Major Fatima Isaacs faces dismissal for wearing a hijab under her formal military beret.

Major Fatima Isaacs is a forensic pathologist who has served the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for at least a decade at the 2 Military Hospital in Wynberg, Cape Town. After being given numerous warnings with regards to wearing her hijab while on duty, she has now been charged for allegedly disobeying a lawful command according to SANDF spokesperson, Mafi Mgobhozi.


Members of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) have shown their fierce support for Major Isaacs. The chairperson of the MJC, Mualima Khadija Patel-Allie, said that, "We live in democratic country, and we are finding ourselves in a position where one of our sisters is being denied a religious and democratic right. She added that, "This is of great importance to us, part of who we are and is a representation of what it means to be a Muslim woman. Our scarf is integral to our code of living."

Yesterday, Major Isaacs appeared before the Court of Military Justice where her case was subsequently postponed to August. According to labor specialist Nazeema Mohamed, who is advising Major Isaacs on her case, SANDF is violating the country's Bill of Rights which speaks to an individual's right to freedom of religion, belief or opinion and prohibits any unfair discrimination on those grounds.

However, as maddening as this case is, it comes with its challenges. Back in 2006, a legal precedent was set when Fairouz Adams, a Muslim social worker at a prison in the Western Cape, was actually fired for wearing a hijab.

Major Isaacs has reasonably argued that her hijab does not conceal any military rankings or insignia. What's ridiculous, however, is the fact that she was previously granted permission to wear her hijab by a number of senior officers. It's reported that a single colonel who has issue with her hijab, has now taken the matter to court.

Understandably, this case is incredibly important as it shows just how deeply entrenched Islamophobia is in various parts of society and the work we still need to do to root it out.

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Interview: How Stogie T’s ‘Freestyle Friday’ Became a TV Show

Freestyle Friday started as lockdown content but is now a fully-fledged TV show on Channel O. In this interview, Stogie T breaks down why the show is revolutionary and talks about venturing into media.

When South Africa was put under a hard lockdown in 2020, Stogie T started Freestyle Friday to "make SA rap again." Freestyle Friday, hosted on Instagram, saw a different cohort of rappers each rap over the same beat picked by the veteran rapper. From niche and emerging rappers to some of the most notable names in South African hip-hop—the likes of AKA, Focalistic, Ginger Trill and several others all participated.

In the last few weeks, however, Freestyle Friday has found its way to cable TV. The show airs every Friday on Channel O, one of the continent's longest-running music TV channels. Freestyle Friday as a TV programme isn't just about freestyles, it's about the art of rapping and the music business, particularly SA hip-hop. Guests range from lyricists to record executives and other personalities aligned with the scene—Ninel Musson and Ms Cosmo for instance.

But Freestyle Friday is only the first media product Stogie T is working on as he is in the process of starting a podcast network, a venture in which he is collaborating with Culture Capital. In the Q&A below, Stogie T breaks down the relationship with Culture Capital, how the show moved from the internet to TV, why it's a revolutionary idea, touches on his venture into media and his future plans.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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