Rwanda Media Commission (RMC), the self-regulatory body for the media, has called upon Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) to suspend Amazing Grace Radio’s programming for three months over an alleged divisive broadcast.
This followed a public hearing following various petitions seeking explanations from the station’s management for airing a sermon that was described by many as discriminatory against women.
During the broadcast, the local religious radio station hosted a self-proclaimed Seventh Day Adventist preacher, identified as Nicolas Niyibikora, who went on air to vent what is perceived as hatred against women who he said were the source of all evil.
Aired on January 29, 2018, Niyibikora’s sermon instantly went viral on social media, igniting anger among many rights activists, with many commentators describing the message as divisive and inciting people to hate a section of the population.
It is reported that during his sermon the preacher said that ‘women have no favour in God’s eyes and that they were the source of all evil in the world right from the garden of Eden where Adam and Eve lived’. He went on to warn that “there is nothing good you can find in women” before he rhetorically asked, “If you’ve read the Bible, who brought the sin into the world,?’ and adding that it was not a man.
Women activists, including a consortium of women human rights Pro-Femmes Twese Hamwe, and Rwanda Association of Female Journalists, petitioned relevant authorities calling for “urgent” action against the preacher and the radio station.
In a press release conference held last Wednesday, the chairperson of Pro-Femmes, Jeanne d’Arc Kanakuze, said that the preacher’s sermon, which essentially described women as the source of evil, is against the country’s Constitution and policies which embrace the equality between men and women.
“Apart from being contradictory to the laws of our country starting with the Constitution, the sermon is also at odds with international principles against discrimination and undermining human beings.”
Apart from Pro-Femmes, Niyibikora’s preaching was also condemned by many other human rights activists in the country, including Marie-Immaculée Ingabire, the chairperson of Transparency International Rwanda, and Jean Leonard Sekanyange, the chairperson of the Rwanda Civil Society Platform.
Ingabire condemned the preaching as discriminative, explaining that if the preacher is not stopped tomorrow he might shift from women and attack other members of society such as men or any other people.
“Tomorrow he might sensitize Rwandans to exterminate a certain group of people.”
In response to this RMC held a public hearing at their offices in Kigali on Monday afternoon, Feb 12, which was also attended by Amazing Grace Radio proprietor, Gregory Ryan Shoof. The Executive Committee of the Self-regulatory body, therefore, resolved to write to RURA, the regulator, to shut down the station for three months.
The management of Amazing Grace was also tasked to put in writing an apology to Rwandan women while Niyibikora was asked to apologise within 48 hours.
Niyibikora who was supposed to attend the public hearing snubbed it and reports have it that efforts to reach him through his known mobile phone have been futile for the last two days.
Gregory Ryan Shoof, however, was instantly apologetic for Niyibikora’s sermon and claimed that at the time of the airing he was out of town. He also claims that he currently doubles as the director of programming at the station after losing the head of programming last month over financial constraints.
He also noted that he is yet to listen to the entire sermon citing language barrier, adding that he has managed to have half of the sermon translated into English.
Shoof also said that he had since urged Niyibikora to return to the radio and “clear the air” on the allegations but the later has not responded.
Niyibikora told the media on Wednesday that he is a staunch member of the Seventh-day Adventist church but the church’s spokesperson, Onesphore Yadusoneye, in the country have distanced themselves from the controversial preacher saying he was expelled from the church over five years ago.
Meanwhile, the National Public Prosecution Authority recently tasked the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at Police to probe Niyibikora over public incitement.
What do you think? Should the board suspend Amazing Grace Radio as a whole or they should deal with the preacher accordingly? Comment with your opinion.
Source: The New Times