JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A South African family is seeking asylum in the United States, claiming that as white Afrikaner farmers they face racial discrimination back home.
The family's lawyer has been contacting US academics to try and get scholarly opinions that would help with their case, South African daily the Times reported today. Lawyer Rehim Babaoglu said the family is too afraid to be identified.
Several US professors have rejected requests for help with the asylum case, the Times said.
"I am not interested in assisting Afrikaners claiming discrimination in a non-racial, democratic, post-apartheid South Africa," professor Dennis Laumann from the University of Memphis told the newspaper.
More than 5 million whites live in South Africa, making up more than 9 percent of the total population, according to Statistics South Africa.
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According to US statistics, 129 South Africans were granted asylum between 2001 and 2010, the Times said.
In a high-profile case in Canada, South African Brandon Huntley was granted refugee status after claiming that, as a white man, he was being targeted by black criminals in racially motivated robberies.
However, this decision was later overturned and Huntley is now fighting extradition from Canada.
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In South Africa, white Afrikaner farmers feel they are being targeted in brutal attacks and killings on their farms.
Thousands of white farmers have been murdered since 1994, although a committee of inquiry in 2003 found that only 2 percent of farm attacks were racially or politically motivated. The main motive is robbery, but the attacks are often unnecessarily violent, raising questions about whether they are fueled by racial anger.
Statistically, black South Africans are far more likely to be victims of crime.
A study by the Institute for Security Studies found that black men between the ages of 26 and 40 are the most likely victims of crime in South Africa.
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