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Aayesha Soni
 
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Racism in 2012: Still an Axis of Evil

27 June 2012, 11:44
In 2012 one would have thought that racism and other such inherently evil ideologies would have ceased to exist in our societies. We live in the supposed free world and pride ourselves on our inalienable human rights afforded to us by international human rights declarations, and ‘progressive’ constitutions. However, events within the past month alone serve to dispel this myth quite drastically and have proven that racism is still very much engrained within the mindset of our society. What makes the situation even scarier is that these bigots are not ashamed to openly display their racism, obviously thinking that their absurd notion of discrimination is justified.

The Euro 2012 tournament has captured the attention of not only Europe, but the entire world. People have been avidly discussing its progress and how their favourite teams have advanced. However, what many people have failed to acknowledge, perhaps because it is easier to enjoy the tournament rather than focus on its ills, is that open and vile racism has plagued these games.  Concerns of racism at Euro 2012 were fuelled by a British television program, entitled "Stadiums of Hate," showing discrimination and violence at recent club matches in Poland and Ukraine. This nightmare only became a reality as racism marred the Netherlands' preparations for its opening match against Denmark.  After spectators made monkey noises at players during a squad practice in Krakow, Poland, the tournament was off to a sour start. Mario Balotelli, an Italian striker, couldn’t escape the assault either as he had to endure racial abuse from Croatian fans when his country played against them, including having a banana thrown at him. Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie was a victim at the hands of the Russian fans. With the only action UEFA capable of meting out is fines to the respective football associations, it makes one wonder if Europe ever did emerge from the Dark Ages. The evidence suggests not.

The second obvious display which left me shocked is that seen in Israel against its African immigrants. Starting a year ago, Israel’s anti-African protests turned into fully fledged race riots last month. Dictated by a series of fire bombings of apartments and a nursery school in an area in which African migrants live, other offences include shops run by or serving migrants being smashed and looted in violent demonstrations. Several Africans were even attacked. South Africa saw its own share of xenophobia in 2007/8, however, what makes the situation in Israel even more flammable is the reaction of its government. Instead of trying to diffuse the situation and promote tolerance, they have been explicitly vocal in their support and even propagation of such racism. This has been exhibited by prohibiting migrants from living in the country, revoking permission to work in the country and the worst step- passing legislation to that effect. The Prevention of Infiltration Law allows asylum seekers to be imprisoned for up to three years just for entering Israel. They have also embarked on building the world’s largest detention centre to detain migrants and asylum speakers. Statements coming from members of parliament concerning these “infiltrators” (what African immigrants are referred to) have been astonishing to say the least, with one of the most racist comments coming from Israel's Interior Minister, Eli Yishai:  "The infiltrators [African immigrants] along with the Palestinians will quickly bring us to the end of the Zionist dream…we don't need to import more problems from Africa… [They] think the country doesn't belong to us, the white man."

As South Africans, we are acutely aware of the depraved practise and ideology of racism and how it has the potential to obliterate all tolerance within a population. I was even more flabbergasted then to find out that a group of settlers of the illegal colony of Susya, Israel, who regularly attack the native Palestinian population of the South Hebron hills in some of the most horrendous manners, are not Ashkenazi Europeans. They are Afrikaaners who, after the end of apartheid in South Africa, moved to Israel and converted to Judaism to steal Palestinian land and continue to practice their racist ideologies.

Racism is a cancer which destroys the very fabric of our society. With such blind and unwarranted hate in the world we live in today, I will be ashamed to tell my children about the actions of my fellow human beings.

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