Friday, January 16, 2009

Is bigotry 'culturally African'?

When I lived in Senegal for three months in the mid-90s, I was well-aware that it was a conservative Muslim country. But it was also a very warm and welcoming country. Yet like many places, venal politicians have whipped up hatred to advance their own careers. A despicable recent court ruling in the country jailed nine gay men for 'indecent conduct and unnatural acts.' The judge said they were guilty of the additional crime of belong to a criminal group: one set up to fight HIV/AIDS.

Homophobia has become increasingly rampant in Senegal due to said ambitious politicians.

Typically, many Senegalese bristled at international condemnation of the unconscionable decision. "Westerners need to remember this is African culture. We do things our own way," was a common sentiment.

What a hypocritical justification for vile bigotry?

Imagine if the French or the British openly defended anti-black racism with a dismissive, "It's the European way. Africans need to respect our culture."

Do you think people in Senegal or anywhere else in sub-Saharan Africa would be 'culturally sensitive' to such a situation?

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