AfriForum faces backlash for fighting for right to display apartheid flag
AfriForum’s application to overturn the court ruling about displaying the apartheid flag in public and private spaces has received major backlash online.
The lobby group has applied to overturn the equality court ruling that declared the display of the flag a form of hate speech.
The appeal will be heard by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein this week.
AfriForum CEO Ernst Roets said while the group and its members do not display the flag, it was taking the matter to court because it believes there is an important distinction between free speech and hate speech.
“We have to be very careful about stepping onto a slippery slope where we start regarding things that are offensive as hate speech and start banning them on that basis. This is the reason AfriForum is involved in this matter, not because of the flag per se but the underlying principle of freedom of speech,” said Roets.
Why was displaying the old flag declared hate speech?
The display of the apartheid flag was declared hate speech in 2019 after the court considered the matter brought by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and SA Human Rights Commission.
Delivering the ruling, judge president Phineas Mojapelo said displaying the flag was racist and discriminatory
“Those who display the old flag consciously and deliberately choose not to display the new democratic, all-uniting and nonracial flag. They choose oppression over liberation symbols. They intend to insult and awaken feelings of white supremacy,” he said.
He said displays of the flag were offensive not only to black people but also to members of the LGBTQI+ community, and its display could fairly be seen as a message propagating hatred and hurtfulness.
Mojapelo said he believed the display of the flag was an insult to ubuntu.
“The Constitutional Court has time and again emphasised the importance of historical context when considering human dignity, especially the history of racialised inequality in SA, a unique attribute of which was the denial of human dignity to black South Africans,” he said.
AfriForum’s court appeal sparks outcry
On social media, many, including Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi and former DA MP Phumzile Van Damme, blasted the legal action.
Van Damme said it wasn't a surprise, saying AfriForum believes apartheid was not a crime against humanity.
Here is a snapshot of some reactions:
Would the Const.’s freedom of expression clause view flying the flag as protected free speech? Is it in line with the values the Constitution espouses? No, on the second count. Not protected free speech as it represents & could incite discrimination on the grounds of race. IMO— Phumzile Van Damme (@zilevandamme) May 6, 2022
A load of NONSENSE that is taking us back to the dark ages.— Mzwanele Manyi (@MzwaneleManyi) May 5, 2022
This move by @afriforum MUST be deemed extreme provocation and has the potential to ignite national unrest & racial polarisation.
I suggest they abandon this and give South Africa a chance to healhttps://t.co/CjJzuIouI1
Seeing as afriforum insists on defending the apartheid flag & are fighting to allow it to be lawfully displayed proudly & publicly (other than when used for educational purposes to tell the violent history of apartheid), it's worth reminding people that words mean things… ✌🏾️ https://t.co/NNPcicMtL8— Ottilia Anna MaSibanda (@MaS1banda) May 6, 2022
Afriforum is fighting for right to display apartheid flag as part of history, but Julius Malema must not sing struggle songs.— Bra Hloni (@DimitryHlonisky) May 6, 2022
The AfriForum is going to court because they want to openly display the murderous Apartheid flag. Yet they take black leaders to court who sing liberation songs. We should also remove Die Stem because that symbolises the oppression and torture of black people. pic.twitter.com/J1kNjn0wBq— Modibe Modiba (@mmodiba10) May 5, 2022
Afriforum fighting to be able to display the defined-as-hate-speech-lest-we-forget old South African (read Apartheid) flag?!?! When people tell you who they are, you really have to believe them. It's a hurtful, traumatic symbol. Just stop! Enough!— brett Fish anderson (@BrettFishA) May 5, 2022
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