Encourage good, forbid evil, protect the poor and defenceless, and strive for justice. These four pillars provide the structure on which attorney Zaakir Mayet lives his life, determined to speak out for the rights of those without a voice.
Equipped with enormous determination and a degree in law from Wits, Mayed (25) is chairman of the Media Review Network (MRN), a South African based internationally recognised nongovernmental organisation that strives to dispel the myths of Islamophobia and promote the ideals of justice and human rights.
Raised in a home where the issues of justice and injustice were much-spoken topics around the dinner table, Zaakir has always had a keen interest in human rights and debating political issues. The atrocities and injustices that Israel metes on the people of Gaza triggered him to put his legal skills to action to fight for justice, not only for the Palestinians, but to combat other injustices.
“As chairman of the MRN, I utilise my understanding of domestic and international human rights law to challenge Islamophobic content within the media. Other issues like the conflict in Syria and its geopolitical implications, the US war on terror and the legalities of drone warfare are also topics I’ve worked on,” says Mayet. “The MRN articulates voices that are often silenced by mainstream propaganda. Our job is to critically engage and rationally present viewpoints that articulate justice for an often-silenced population. A perfect example of this is the Palestinian issue.”
Booker prize-winning author Arundhati Roy once said: “There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”
Mayet says: “That challenge is ever-present; we are all obliged to change this status quo. The demonising of Muslims in the Western world is a classic example of this. It is our duty to address this misconception and expose the underlying issues that underpin these topics.”