Letters: Driven out of our tents during our Hajj to Mecca because of our skin colour

Thursday, September 20, 2018

MUSLIM pilgrims pray at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The writer and his companions experienced racism at the hands of fellow Africans. Khalil Hamra AP

Racist behaviour often develops into racial discrimination with its notice- able negative outcomes, ranging from simple neglect or, as I experienced, being hurled out of a camp earmarked for people living in Africa while on our pilgrimage.

Our group of five couples walked to Mina, a tent city outside Mecca, to start the first day of our pilgrimage. We reached the camp and had barely settled down to have a short rest before we started the day’s prayers when a large group of our fellow Africans from central Africa practically drove us out of the tent.

They said we were not Africans but from Asia because of the colour of our skin. Our pleas for rational dialogue and negotiations to prove we were Africans fell on deaf ears.

Without putting up an argument, we willingly gave up our tent and moved to another as we valued our pilgrimage and the prevailing camaraderie more than disagreeing about space.

This horrifying experience proves that the effects of ignorance, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance live everywhere, and are not only a South African problem but a global dilemma.

There is narrow-mindedness and prejudice out there. It is time we all stood up and took the lead in discussing these social ills. My experience pales in comparison to others, but it is a form of discrimination, and tackling it requires a confession from us all that it exists.


Source: https://www.iol.co.za/the-star/news/letters-driven-out-of-our-tents-during-our-hajj-to-mecca-because-of-our-skin-colour-17121601