Two Johannesburg-based websites were simultaneously defaced by hackers who daubed Muslim-extremist slogans on them.
Photograph by: Bruce Gorton
The websites of the Gauteng department of local government and of fashion magazine Marie Claire were hacked into on Tuesday night and yesterday morning.
The department's website, which has now been shut, was hacked into by a group calling itself the CeCeN Hack Team.
Across the web page appeared the slogan Allahu Ekber (Turkish for "Allah is greatest"), followed by: "Denmark Israel asshole Americas. 45 thousand people will give account. Hooray Chechnya".
This is believed to be a reference to a Danish newspapers' publication of cartoon's showing and "insulting" the Muslim prophet, Mohammed.
A picture of a boy with both legs amputated, sitting on a chair with his prosthetic legs on the floor, appeared on the website's front page.
It was accompanied by an image of Shamil Basayev, a Chechen militant Islamist leader and a former leader of the Chechen separatist movement, believed to have been responsible for the 2004 attack on a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, in which 385 people, mostly children, were killed.
Marie Claire's website, which was launched on Monday, had "Hacked by Trex" written across it with a hand print underneath. Trex identify themselves as a "Turkish and Muslim hacking group".
Moulana Ebrahim Bham, of the Council of Muslim Theologians, said the council "condemns something like this, that apparently seems to be in the name of a Muslim cause".
"There is no reason for someone to do this, or to use a Muslim cause as a reason for hacking," Bham said.
Toby Shapshak, editor of Stuff magazine, said that hackers do what they do "to show that they can".
Though Shapshak said the specific incidents appear to have a "political agenda", most of the time hackers are trying to show off their ability to hack into websites.
Shapshak warned that companies "need to put in place security measures and must ensure that they update them".
Both the department of local government and Marie Claire have called on information technology experts to investigate how their security was breached.
The Gauteng department of local government and housing spokesman, Fred Mokoko, said: "We have shut the website down and have referred the matter for investigation."
Marie Claire editor Aspasia Karras said: "The hackers took away a lot of the content. IT investigators are looking into it and we are checking on our security measures."