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Speaker’s comments compared to Hitler

Ayo Kimathi

Controversial statements by an American speaker were compared to those by Adolf Hitler as the legal case over his placement on the stop list continued in the Supreme Court.

Ayo Kimathi was banned from entering the island because of comments made during a presentation in September 2015 in which he attacked homosexuality and interracial relations as “sexual deviance”, blaming white Europeans for introducing both to African people.

During the hearing, Chief Justice Ian Kawaley said elements in Mr Kimathi’s speech were “a mirror image, in many respects, of Hitler’s ideology in black face”, questioning the legal limits of free speech.

Mr Kimathi, who refers to himself as the “Irritated Genie”, was one of two presenters brought to the island by David Tucker for a presentation on African culture.

However, his speech drew harsh criticism for describing homosexuality as a cancer that originated from white Europeans along with other forms of “sexual deviance” including child molestation, bestiality, rape and interracial sex.

Mr Kimathi also came under fire for comments made on his website, War On The Horizon, on which he has endorsed the killing of whites and “black traitors”.

Senator Michael Fahy, then Minister for Home Affairs, subsequently placed Mr Kimathi on the stop list and the Human Rights Commission announced that they would investigate the event.

However, Mr Kimathi and Mr Tucker launched a legal action against the minister and the commission, attacking the constitutionality of their actions given the protection of free speech.

Speaking on Monday, lawyer Eugene Johnston, representing the applicants, said the presentation was on African culture and fell short of hate speech, arguing that words alone are not enough.

He also argued that the commission had performed a “procedural misstep” by launching an investigation without setting terms of reference.

As the hearing continued yesterday, Lauren Sadler-Best, representing the Government, opened her arguments by reading an excerpt from a speech by Hitler, following it by reading a section of Mr Kimathi’s presentation with “white” and “black” reversed.

“I would suggest that if that had been the statement made by some kind of a white supremacist, we wouldn’t be here today,” she said, describing the presentation as an incitement to hatred rising to the level of hate speech. She told the court that during the speech Mr Kimathi vilified interracial relations and homosexuals, alleging they were bringing about the “genocide” of black people and comparing them to bestiality and paedophilia.

While the presentation was advertised as being an educational speech about African history, she said Mr Kimathi repeatedly turned his attention to making remarks about the “effeminisation of black men” by white Europeans.

“If it was one or two throwaway comments, by the time the shock had worn off, people may have forgotten it,” she said. “In this case, it was replete.”

She argued that hate speech did not need to incite or result in violence to be classified as such, only to spread or justify hatred or intolerance.

While Mr Johnston had suggested that some of the comments were political due to the contested issue of same-sex marriage on the island, Ms Sadler-Best said that Mr Kimathi did not mention that subject once in his presentation.

“The term same-sex marriage was never used in the speech,” she said. “Homosexual relationships were mentioned. Interracial sex was mentioned. You would have to stretch your mind to suggest that by extension he was referring to same-sex marriage, but in this context it doesn’t fit.”

She further argued that Mr Fahy had enough information to place Mr Kimathi on the stop list, saying that he had received complaints and read reports in this newspaper.

Ms Sadler-Best also added that Mr Fahy was able to view Mr Kimathi’s website, which she suggested should be viewed as a “credible source” on Mr Kimathi himself.

While she said there was no evidence Mr Fahy sought a legal opinion before making the decision, she said that Mr Fahy was an attorney and was the Minister of Home Affairs, adding: “It’s not unreasonable that he may have known what is considered or could be considered hate speech.”

She rejected the suggestion that Mr Fahy had acted to promote European culture over African culture, noting that other speakers had made presentations on the subject of African culture without incident including Professor James Small, who spoke at the same event as Mr Kimathi.

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