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Yusuf Abramjee; Goed Hoop Christian students

Muslim activist wants to have Christian residence closed down in Pretoria

A South African Muslim activist, Yusuf Abramjee, has succeeded in getting a government commission to investigate a private, Christians-only students residence in Pretoria.

Published: April 25, 2017, 10:00 am

    The Goede Hoop (Good Hope) residence opened its doors in February this year and was paid for by private investors.

    The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities will start a probe after complaints from Abramjee and Mantoa Selepe that the residence “discriminated” against non-Christians. According to the complainants, it was “unconstitutional and apartheid in disguise”.

    On the residence’s website, it is described as “a private Afrikaans residence for Tuks students where men and women may participate together and separately in student life”.

    According to the website, “De Goede Hoop provides you with a privatised student life without political interference, we breathe new life into student life, we recruit on merit, we provide a home for proud, Christian, Afrikaans students.”

    Although the website does not mention it, the residence is apparently managed by Afriforum whose CEO, Kallie Kriel, told the media that they have not officially been informed of any investigation. Apart from the CRL Commission, the municipality of Pretoria will also investigate the residence after further complaints by Yusuf Abramjee.

    Kriel said: “We welcome a conversation, because we have nothing to fear. We are doing nothing wrong and do not act unconstitutionally. There is no problem with founding an Afrikaans residence with a Christian ethos… If we cannot do that, then we are living in a repressive society where no cultural group may practise its own language and culture.”

    At its own residences, the University of Pretoria imposes racial quotas to ensure “diversity” and also force students of different races to mix socially. The Afrikaans language has also been banned at UP residences. According to Kriel, “There are no racial criteria, unlike at the official residences of the UP. The UP discriminates by means of an English-only language policy in its residences and assigning students to residences on the grounds of race and colour.”

    A spokesman for the University of Pretoria, Rikus Delport, said that the university “distanced itself” from the residence. At the end of 2016, the university had banned Afrikaans as a language of tuition and as an academic language following upon riots by black students who were objecting to hearing Afrikaans anywhere on the campus, even while their own lectures were held in English.

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