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Assessing and promoting civil and minority rights in South Africa.

[Source: News 24 by Stephen Buchanan-Clarke and Craig Moffat.]

In recent years southern Africa, once thought to be relatively insulated against the threat of extremism, has seen an increase in extremist activity and associated acts of terrorism. This is by no means unique to the region and reflects its continued spread internationally. As indicated by the Global Terrorism Index, although the total number of deaths from terrorism has fallen since a high point in 2013 – largely because of strategic victories against Boko Haram and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – the impact of terrorism continues to widen. In 2017, 67 countries experienced at least one death from terrorism, which is the second-highest number of countries in the past 20 years recording at least one death for the year.

The risk posed by international terrorist organisations, particularly ISIS, Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, to South Africa has been debated for several years. The challenge of this debate lies in balancing the potential security threat posed by these groups against the risk of overestimating this threat and thereby fuelling unnecessary social divisions and xenophobia against both Muslim South Africans and Muslim immigrants. As documented in Van Deventer and Goswami’s chapter, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Countering the Financing of Terrorism and the Unintended Consequences for Non-Profit Organisations, governments can, and do, use regulations in the name of countering terrorism to shut down civil society space and limit press freedom.

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South Africa at a Glance
57 700 000 (mid 2018 estimate)
4.5% y/y in May 2019 (CPI) & +6.4 y/y in May 2019 (PPI)
-3.2% q/q (1st quarter of 2019)
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