Return of a troubling nativist

Terre’Blanche, a South African white supremacist, is back

Return of a troubling nativistOne of South Africa’s most notorious white supremacists has resurfaced—and he has ambitious plans. On Oct. 10, Eugene Terre’Blanche, who founded the Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) in the ’70s, held a rally with 300 supporters in a hall outside of Johannesburg. His goal: to fight for an independent Afrikaner republic. Against the backdrop of the AWB’s swastika-style flag, Terre’Blanche told the crowd, which reportedly included representatives from some 23 far-right groups, “Our land is being run by criminals who murder and rob. This land was the best, and they ruined it all.”

Terre’Blanche’s return has caught many by surprise. During the ’80s and ’90s, he was well known for his fiery oratory and violent demonstrations against the end of apartheid. But after he was jailed for two 1996 incidents—the assault of a black gas station attendant and attempted murder of a black security guard—he fell off the political map. Since his release from prison in 2004, he had been maintaining a low profile, and is now taking a less militant approach. “There are other options we have to exercise first,” he said recently. “We have a strong case to take to the United Nations.”

Though he has for years quietly championed a breakaway Afrikaner state, his charge that whites have become the target of racism has gained attention in recent months. Canada inserted itself into the debate in September, when the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) accepted the refugee application of Brandon Huntley, a white South African, on the grounds that he had faced racist attacks. (The federal government is seeking leave to challenge the IRB’s ruling before the Federal Court.)

But in South Africa, few are paying much heed to him or his case. According to a spokesman for the country’s ruling African National Congress Party, the AWB is “singing an old song that will not work.”