Call for action over pig's head insult

Time of article published Oct 31, 2014

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Rebecca Jackman

THE South African Jewish Board of Deputies rallied the Jewish community and supporters to join it in a protest yesterday against the Congress of South African Students’ (Cosas) Western Cape branch for placing a pig’s head in a supermarket’s meat section.

The protest, held outside Woolworths in Sea Point, where the pig’s head was left last week, was also to highlight what the board said was rising anti-semitism and persecution of minorities.

Cosas members have said their action was part of a campaign protesting at Woolworths for continuing to stock Israeli products.

The board has accused the Cosas branch of anti-semitism, intimidation and hate speech for its action.

“There has been an escalation of anti-semitism in the past few months, culminating in the ultimate anti-semitic emblem,” the board’s national director, Wendy Kahn, said.

She told the group of about 50 protesters that the incident last week, “with a pig’s head being smuggled in a pram and placed in a fridge that was assumed to contain kosher meat, shows a vicious and vulgar hatred”.

“Every South African citizen who cherishes our democracy should be horrified by this.”

Cosas’s provincial chairman, Siphakamise Ngxowa, said yesterday that the student group believed in independent views and had “many programmes about international relations”.

He said the board had complained to the South African Human Rights Commission, but Cosas believed it was fighting for human rights.

“How can they speak about the issue of the pig when children are being killed in Palestine?” Ngxowa asked, referring to the Israeli military air strikes on the Gaza Strip earlier this year.

“This is what informed our protest.”

Woolworths’ group director of retail operations, Paula Disberry, said the company was “appalled” by the students’ action, which was “unacceptable and offensive”.

Darren Bergman, DA MP, said the incident was an attack on all Muslim and Jewish people. He attended the protest to take a stand, not just against anti-semitism, but attacks on all minorities. “I’m taking a stand against the persecution of all minorities. We should all feel free in this country.”

Former social worker Zmira Cohen said she attended the protest because she saw the pig’s head as “an attack on everybody’s freedom”.

“No group should be marginalsed for what they believe in,” she said.

“We bleed the same way, we feel pain, we feel joy.”

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