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ANC concerned over pigs-head protest

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The ANC on Friday expressed concern at the action by Cosas members who placed a pig’s head in the meat section of a Woolworths store in protest against trade relations with Israel

“The placing of pigs’ heads, in violation of the religious beliefs of certain sections of our population, is misguided and extremely unfortunate,” ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said in a statement.

“As a part of the community of progressive peoples of the world, the ANC does not condone religious persecution in any manner and by whomsoever engages in it.”

The incident, which happened at Woolworths’ Fort Road store in Sea Point last Friday, was portrayed as a call to boycott Woolworths for allegedly continuing to trade with Israel following the war in Gaza.

Mary Kluk, chairwoman of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, said at the time that the Congress of SA Students (Cosas) did not deny that it had done this.

“A press statement issued by Cosas Western Cape chairperson Siphakamise Ngxowa, inter alia declared that Cosas ‘will not allow people who will not eat pork to pretend that they are eating clean meat, when it is sold by hands dripping with the blood of Palestinian children’,” said Kluk.

The SAJBD was appalled by the incident and said it was a “hate-filled demonstration”.

Kluk said pork was strictly forbidden by the Jewish dietary laws. Therefore this action was an offensive one, aimed at intimidating the Jewish community.

Duarte on Friday called upon Cosas to “desist from further engaging in such acts” and to campaign in a manner that did not promote anti-semitism or infringe on people’s constitutional rights.

“Our calls for solidarity with the people of Palestine and for heightened action to boycott and isolate Israel is not a call or a campaign against Judaism nor is it anti-semitic.

“We are aggrieved by the notion of a powerful state that continues to exert violence against the people of Palestine, the victims in this conflict, and the continued occupation of Palestine by Israel.”

Duarte said the ANC reaffirmed its position that the mass democratic movement must heighten its solidarity campaign aimed at supporting the finding of a just solution, including the strengthening of a sovereign independent state of Palestine, in order help to bring peace to the region and end conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

“This must be done within a culture and environment that does not promote anti-semitism nor undermine the constitutionality enshrined right to freedom of religion enjoyed by all people of this country,” Duarte said.

The SAJBD this week said it had lodged a complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission against Cosas and Ngxowa “for their anti-semitic demonstration and hate speech”.

Woolworths said it would also carry out an investigation.

“Woolworths is appalled by this incident. Placing a pig’s head in our store is unacceptable and offensive to our employees and customers, including Jewish and Muslim employees and customers,” group director of retail operations Paula Disberry said.

“We will destroy any halaal products that may be affected and take any other appropriate measures,” she said, adding that there were no kosher food products on the affected shelf. SAPA

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