Wits student faces disciplinary action for performing the Nazi goose-step March at Israeli Apartheid Week

A Wits University student who is facing disciplinary action for performing the infamous Nazi goose-step march in front of the Great Hall during  Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) activities, says he cannot understand why he is facing disciplinary action.

Ismail Omar, 20, has had his Wits Muslim Student Association (MSA) membership revoked and will face an internal disciplinary hearing for  imitating Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, with a “finger moustache” while goose-step marching on Thursday, March 8, a depiction which has been condemned as anti-Semitic. The incident was also caught on camera and circulated on social media. Omar has since released a statement on Facebook justifying his actions and stating that the act was not anti-Semitic but was a “satirical depiction of the conditions that millions of human beings have to face daily”.

Omar said his depiction was a “satirical goose-step March”, which was done with the intention of sparking a conversation. “I was not saluting Hitler or anyone or any Nazis and nowhere am I affiliated with any Nazi organisation or PSC or any organisation similar to that,” he said.

Omar says, however, that he does not understand why he is facing a disciplinary when the MSA has no constitution of its own. “What equips the MSA to pass punishment without any constitution or without any disciplinary meeting?” he asked.  “I was not given the opportunity to give my statement before my membership was automatically revoked,” he added.

MSA chairperson, Muazz Docrat, confirmed that the MSA is governed by the Student Representative Council constitution and in accordance with this, the MSA has revoked Omar’s membership, which is not a permanent revocation. The action is seen as a “grave offence” by the MSA which says it does not support anti-Semitism or any form of discrimination.

Chairperson of South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS), Dean Harrison Weil, said he found Omar’s actions highly offensive. “There has to be a limit to freedom of expression and the connotation the Nazi goose-step March holds is a uniquely offensive gesture to all Jews,” he said.

SAUJS says it appreciates the MSA condemning the action and taking disciplinary action against Omar but feels that legal action should also be taken.

A joint statement released last week Friday, March 10, by MSA, Wits Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) and Wits Amnesty International indicates that all three organisations are collectively looking at the possibility of opening a case against Omar with the Human Rights Commission (HRC).

The disciplinary hearing is expected take place within the first week of April.


Wits Vuvuzela, March 10, 2017 Israeli Apartheid Week

Wits Vuvuzela, July 15, 2015 Nazi comments by former SRC leader

Wits Vuvuzela, September 02, 2016 Discrimination Talks