There should be substantial repercussions for racist people in South Africa‚ executive director of the Afro-Middle East Centre Na’eem Jeenah said on Tuesday.
Jeenah was speaking at the Institute for the Advancement on Journalism in Johannesburg at a seminar on issues of racism and freedom of expression.
“There should be consequences for blatant racism and racism that expresses and plays itself out. If I work with someone who is a racist‚ I’d be happy to tell that person that ‘you’re not my friend’‚” said Jeenah.
“What I’m saying is that racism should not legally be prescribed. But within civil society‚ that is where we need to deal with this [issue of racism] and how we conduct our relationships‚ we don’t want people to be racists‚” he said.
He was answering a question about what penalties should‚ or could‚ be imposed against people passing racial slurs to one another.
The political Islam and Muslim world commentator added that racists are “destructive and very harmful”.
“Should that mean that they should be shut up? That people who express these views should not be allowed to? I think the attempt to prescribe that is highly problematic. The hate speech bill I believe‚ will be highly problematic‚” said the 51-year-old.
Government will be publishing a hate crimes bill for comment in order to clamp down on acts of racism and xenophobia. The bill is likely to be finalised by the end of July. It’s a plan stemming from a resolution at the 2001 World Conference against Racism held in Durban.
In January this year‚ the Economic Freedom Fighters said there were no real consequences for anti-black and racist behaviour in South Africa.
The red berets spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi at the time said anti-racism in the country had become normalised.
“Twenty-two years after democracy‚ white people in South Africa continue to wear white supremacy with pride in our public and social media spaces.
“What used to be closed-door dinner conversations are now being hanged in the open and in full view of everyone through status updates on Facebook and Twitter‚” he said in a statement.
This followed a Facebook post by KwaZulu-Natal estate agent Penny Sparrow‚ who compared black people to monkeys. Sparrow was last month fined R150‚000 by the Umzinto Equality Court.
Source: Times Live