South African Court Rules Freedom Anthem 'Hate Speech'

The ANC will challenge the ruling and youth leader Julius Malema called the decision "racist."

Posted: 09/14/2011 12:47 PM EDT
Filed Under South Africa, racism

Julius Malema

A South African judge ruled that an apartheid-era song sung by ruling party youth leader Julius Malema and his supporters now constitutes hate speech.

The song in question,  “Shoot the Boer,” was made popular during the anti-apartheid movement. “Boer” is a term used to describe white South Africans who are descendants of Dutch colonialists, known as Afrikaners. The word means "farmer" in the Afrikaans language.

Malema defended his use of the song by saying it is not to be taken literally, but used as a symbol of the enduring fight against oppression and injustice, and protected as part of the heritage of the anti-apartheid movement. But the white rights' group that protested Malema’s use of the song and brought the lawsuit against him says that “Shoot the Boer” is offensive and divisive.

In his ruling Judge Colin Lamont said South Africa’s new post-apartheid constitution requires South Africans to “embrace all citizens as their brothers” and avoid using language intended “to be hurtful, to incite harm and promote hatred,” according to the Associated Press.

In a show of defiance, members of Malema’s party, the African National Congress, gathered outside the courthouse after the ruling and began singing the song, which now carries criminal liability for anyone caught singing or quoting its lyrics.

The ANC plans to appeal the decision and Malema has called the ruling "racist" and further evidence of white control over the country.

"The minorities continue to control South African courts and control South Africa's majority,” Malema told reporters.

"The courts are not transformed, the judiciary is not transformed in South Africa, and everybody acknowledges that," he said. "And if not being transformed means it's racist, then so be it,” he said according to AP.

(Photo: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/Files)

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