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Racial Profiling? Ryanair Airline Imposes Language Test' For South African Passengers To Enter The UK
The low-cost Irish carrier Ryanair has been accused by South Africa’s language authorities of discrimination against Black South Africans. According to Reuters, South Africa’s government has denounced the Irish airline Ryanair for requiring a test in Afrikaans for all South Africans before they can fly to Britain. Calling the move a “backward profiling system” these type of tests date back to the Apartheid era, the institutionalized racial profiling and oppression system that existed in South Africa from 1948 to 1994.
South Africa has 11 official languages and Afrikaans is spoken by about 12% of South Africans as their first language. Afrikaans speakers are descendants of predominantly White settlers first arriving at the Cape of Good Hope in the 17th and 18th centuries.
IsiZulu and isiXhosa are the largest languages. In 1996 South Africa’s new Constitution gave official protection to all major languages.
Ryanair denied the use of the racial profiling policy. As Reuters reported, the airline stated that the measure was implemented ‘to curb high prevalence of fake South African passports.’ Ryanair does not have flights to and from South Africa. The ‘language test’ is required for any UK-bound passengers originally from South Africa to fill in the questionnaire provided by the Irish carrier.
“Due to the high prevalence of fraudulent South African passports, we require passengers traveling to the UK to fill out a simple questionnaire issued in Afrikaans, If they are unable to complete this questionnaire, they will be refused travel and issued with a full refund,” the airline said in an official statement.
However, South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs replied, saying that the country has policies that it regularly shares with airlines to prevent the use of false documents. The department said it would issue a statement on the Ryanair test.
“We are taken aback by the decision of this airline because the Department regularly communicates with all airlines to update them on how to validate South African passports, including the look and feel. It is not clear to which extent the airline has used these services before resorting to this backward profiling system,” the department told Reuters.