In Brief

South Africans call for apartheid flag ban

Critics say it is a painful reminder of white minority rule, but some argue it's a symbol of Afrikaner heritage

The display of apartheid-era flags at recent protests in South Africa has led to fresh calls for the symbol to banned.

The old flag, officially retired when white minority rule ended and the first democratic elections were held in 1994, was brandished by some protesters at a march against farm murders on Monday.

The controversial demonstration was called after the murder last week of a white farmer in Klapmuts, a town in the Western Cape, Al Jazeera reports.

Hundreds of mostly white protesters took to the streets in a campaign dubbed Black Monday, blocking a major highway to Johannesburg.

Many on social media found the protest offensive, “not least because the flag is widely considered a painful symbol of apartheid”, Garreth Van Niekerk argues in Huffington Post South Africa.

“Comparisons have been drawn between the orange, white and blue one and the Nazi flag, and there have been calls that displaying it should be made illegal,” he adds.

Van Niekerk points out that the flag has been adopted by white supremacist groups around the world and was worn by Dylann Roof, a white man who killed nine black churchgoers in South Carolina in 2015.

However, some South Africans argue that the flag is an important symbol of Afrikaner heritage and history, he says.

In a statement, the ruling African National Congress condemned the “despicable” and “racist” behaviour displayed at this week’s protest.

“The racial characterisation of crime and the stoking of racial hatred by some elements in the campaign through, among others, the arrogant and offensive display of apartheid South Africa’s flag, are indicative of an unrelenting yearning for apartheid fascism and while supremacy,” it said.

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