What Is Xenophobia? South Africa March Violence: Anti-Immigration Protest Over Foreigners Is About Crime, Unemployment

A demonstration against immigrants and foreign-born people living in South Africa turned violent as police greeted the protest with riot control tactics Friday, according to multiple reports. More than 100 people were arrested, the South African government...

What Is Xenophobia? South Africa March Violence: Anti-Immigration Protest Over Foreigners Is About Crime, Unemployment

A demonstration against immigrants and foreign-born people living in South Africa turned violent as police greeted the protest with riot control tactics Friday, according to multiple reports. More than 100 people were arrested, the South African government announced in a tweet.

Rubber bullets, water cannons and stun grenades were employed by law enforcement during the planned march in Pretoria, which seemingly centered on xenophobia. Xenophobia has been defined as "fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign."

Many South Africans have complained that immigrants — namely Nigerians — were taking their jobs, as the country has been hovering around an all-time high for unemployment. The rate of jobless workers in South Africa stood at more than 26 percent as of January, from when the most recent data was made available.

Some immigrants have been blamed for working in black market industries, such as drug dealing and prostitution. Others had their homes and businesses robbed and looted this week.

South African President Jacob Zuma called for calm and reason to prevail amid the xenophobic protests.

"Many citizens of other countries living in South Africa are law-abiding and contribute to the economy of the country positively, Zuma said Friday. "It is wrong to brandish all non-nationals as drug dealers or human traffickers. Let us isolate those who commit such crimes and work with government to have them arrested, without stereotyping and causing harm to innocent people."

The South African government announced earlier this week that it would start cracking down on businesses that employ a certain amount of immigrants, as country law has dictated 60 percent of any company's workforce must be made up of natural born citizens. The enforcement of the immigration labor law has resulted in dozens of arrests and detainments.

Attacks on foreigners living in South Africa has been on the rise lately, and similar xenophobic uprisings left dozens killed in the country in 2008 and 2015, NPR reported.

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