Facing Abuse in Community Environments (FACE), a US-based organisation, has released a report into serious allegations against Fatih Seferagic. Seferagic, a German-born reciter, visited South Africa in April to lead prayers during Ramadan. His visit was met with backlash and criticism online, that cited the investigation into allegations of sexual abuse against Seferagic.
FACE’s investigation found that there were several “substanitated allegations” ranging from drug-facilitated sexual assault, sexual assault, sexual battery, physical abuse, misappropriation of funds, spiritual abuse, workplace misconduct and the reckless transmission of a sexually transmitted disease. There were primary allegations of sexual and physical abuse and secondary allegations around misappropriation of funds.
The full report can be found here.
Responding to the report through an Instagram post, Seferagic has denied the allegations. He says all the allegations were fabricated and they are completely “baseless”. Seferagic also invited those individuals who had raised the allegations to lay formal complaints with law enforcement. “Until such action is taken, there will be no further comment on the matter from me,” he said.
In 2020, FACE launched the investigation into allegations made against Seferagic. The inquiry ran for a year between July 10, 2020 – August 31, 2021. The organisation announced in July 2020, they were completing phase one of a four-phase public investigation into the allegations made against Seferagic. FACE said they became aware of the public outcry around the allegations in June 2020. In the process of their investigation, they interviewed 12 victims and 36 sources.
Seferagic has noted that he was given just 48 hours to respond to the FACE inquiry, drawing some scrutiny of the methodology. FACE told The Daily Vox that as noted in their report, they received calls from people who identified themselves as members of Mr. Seferagic’s legal and management team as early as July 15 2020 – five days after FACE made the announcement that they were launching the investigation.
FACE is a non-profit organisation that aims to “foster safe community environments by holding abusive religious and community leadership accountable.” They have done this through investigations of various religious or community leaders. The organisation notes on their website that the findings are not part of a criminal justice proceedings. Instead the organisation said the purpose of the reports are to notify the community and potential employers so that they may make informed decisions when engaging with the subject of the investigation.
Besides their investigation into Seferagic, the organisation has conducted investigations into four other individuals from 2018-2021. They have also compiled a list of religious or community leaders who were publicly alleged to have abused their positions of power.
Several organisations previously affiliated with Seferagic have cut ties with him. A charity in the United Kingdom, Human Appeal ended their relationship with him ahead of an event he was due to lead in July. The organisation said: “taking seriously the concerns of the community, and always seek to uphold values of transparency and accountability”.
Seferagic initially announced his intended visit to South Africa for the first ten days of Ramadan via a post on Twitter. The post was subsequently deleted. He did not make mention of any organisation which would be hosting him. Seferagic posted prayers from several mosques in the Western Cape on his Facebook page but the names and locations have not been publicly revealed. His trip to South Africa was also cut short by five days according to the FACE report.
It is still unclear who Seferagic’s South African hosts were.
After Seferagic’s visit to South Africa, two Muslim women, Lameesah Soeker and Sumaya Adams formed an organisation. The organisation is called People Eradicating Abuse in Community Environments (PEACE). The purpose of the organisation is to “create a safe environment for victims of abuse by holding religious and community leaders accountable”. They plan to focus on sexual, spiritual, financial and physical abuse.