Why the Senegalese government likes anti-gay protests

Update: According to African Global News and the Senegalese news website rewmi.com, police ultimately broke up the anti-homosexual demonstration which took place on Friday in Dakar, arresting dozens of people, including an imam. Police made several arrests in the capital's grand mosque.

Earlier this month, five were arrested in connection with an investigation into an alleged gay marriage, according to Le Monde, and several Islamic organization denounced what they called an increase in homosexuality in Senegal. The march was in protest of the decision to release the five detainees release without trial.

Homosexuality is a crime in Senegal, punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment.

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Senegalese blogger Naomed, who writes Blog politique au Senegal, explains that there are two kinds of protests in Senegal, “those that don't disturb the public order and are legitimately authorized, the minority, and the majority, which [are thought to] threaten the social equilibrium” [Fr].

In other words, there are protests the government likes and protests it will not tolerate. But where do officials draw the line?

Naomed offers by way of example a protest held today in Dakar against homosexuals, with the government's blessing.

Clairement haineuse, réclamant au choix : leur égorgement, leur mise sur une pirogue en direction des iles Canaries (leur famille ne refusera pas l'argent qu'ils pourraient envoyer malgré leur tare), leur bastonnade pour les plus modérés.

Clearly hateful, it offered the following options: slicing the throats of [homosexuals], putting them on a canoe bound for the Canary Islands (their families won't refuse the money they can send back home, in spite of their defects). Calmer heads suggested beating them.

Une manifestation visant à refuser le droit à l'existence d'une partie de la population sénégalaise n'est clairement pas un trouble à l'ordre public. J'ai souvent parlé sur ce blog de la nécessité pour un régime aux abois de se fabriquer des ennemis afin de focaliser la haine et la frustration populaires qui risqueraient de se retourner contre le pouvoir. Les campagnes pour la pureté des moeurs font elles aussi parti de l'arsenal des pays faschisants.

A protest which seeks to refuse a part of the population's right to exist is clearly not a threat to the public order. I've often talked on this blog about the need of a desperate regime to fabricate enemies in order to redirect the popular frustration and hate that might otherwise be visited upon those in power. Campaigns for moral purity are also part of the arsenal in fascist countries.

Naomed goes on to offer a (satirical) sample list of a week's worth of protests in Dakar:

Aujourd'hui : manifestation contre les homosexuels du Sénégal, autorisée par le préfet.
Aujourd'hui : manifestation pour le ramassage des poubelles, refusée.
Samedi : manifestation contre la corruption, la mal gouvernance. Interdite
Samedi : manifestation contre l'esclavage des petits talibés. Interdite
Samedi : manifestation pour l'application des lois sur le mariage de mineures, forcés, arrangés… Interdite
Lundi : Manifestation pour le bon déroulement du sommet de l'Oci. Autorisée.
Mardi : Manifestation pour l'obligation de déclaration du patrimoine des hommes au pouvoir. Refusée
Mercredi : Manifestation de soutien à la génération ConCret. Autorisée
Jeudi : Manifestation pour des élections locales sincères et transparentes. Interdite.
Jeudi : manifestation pour rendre fériés tous les jours de Magal au Sénégal. Autorisée
Vendredi : ….

Today: protest against homosexuals in Senegal, authorized by the prefect
Today: march in favor of cleaning up garbage, refused
Saturday: protest against the enslavement of street children. Banned.
Saturday: march in favor of implemented a law against the forced marriage, arranged marriage, and the marriage of minors…Banned.
Monday: march in support of a successful OCI (Organization of the Islamic conference) summit. Authorized.
Tuesday: protest to make those in power publicly declare their financial holdings. Refused.
Wednesday: march in favor of the Generation du Concret (a new political party founded by the president's son). Authorized.
Thursday: march for honest and transparent local election. Banned.
Thursday: protest in favor of making every Magal day in Senegal a holiday. Authorized.
Friday: ….


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