The Joanna Berenger controversy is heating up. Following an onslaught of ‘Shame’ on social networks by internet users in excess, the women’s wing of the Mauritian Socialist Movement (MSM) held a press briefing this Saturday morning to demand the resignation of the MP of the Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM) from Parliament, judging her to be racist.
Precisions of Joanna Berenger
The mauve MP published a post, namely an old Mauritian expression, on Friday 15 July at 12.14pm. The post reads: “Apel sa: Manz bondié, Kaka diab“. It is an old expression to describe a “Janus Faced“. In the title of her post, she said “Do you know this proverb? Our Creole language hides an extraordinary richness and wisdom“.
The MSM alleged that the post referred to the Prime Minister’s visit to Somnath Spiritual Park in Ganga Talao to symbolically launch activities for the holy month of Shravan Mass (commemorating the sacrifice of the god Shiva, who swallowed poison to save humanity). The prime ministerial couple were filmed praying during the Kalash Stapna.
Joanna Berenger, following the outpouring against her on her official page, posted a video explanation the same evening at 7pm. She said that the words of her post were misunderstood and misappropriated on a communal basis: “The Creole proverb I posted on my page was misinterpreted. At no time, did I want to insult a religion. But unfortunately, my words have been misrepresented, I am sad that this proverb has been diverted from its meaning and some people have felt insulted. I had no such intention“.
KKS: “Apologies will not suffice”
However, this public apology was not enough. The MSM women’s wing in the press, led by Minister Kalpana Koonjoo-Shah and supported by Teena Jutton, Subashnee Luchmun-Roy, Joanne Tour, Sandra Mayotte, and Dorine Chuckory, is calling for her resignation from Parliament. “Joanna Bérenger has not respected the constitutional right of all Mauritians to practice their religion. We would have reacted in the same way if another religion was concerned… We live in a rainbow, multiracial and multicultural country, and that is our greatest wealth, our treasure. We must measure the impact of each of our words. She does not deserve to sit in the temple of democracy. Joanna Berenger has demonstrated her small-mindedness. She has insulted the beliefs of thousands of Mauritians. Can one associate the divine with such nonsense?”
Sandra Mayotte called her remarks as racist and unacceptable to the Hindu community. “It is sad that Joanna Berenger has fallen into racial hatred,” she said.