Rwanda’s media watchdog Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) on Wednesday finally suspended a Christian local radio station Amazing Grace FM for 30 days for airing a sermon that was perceived as discriminatory against women.
The radio station failed to comply with Rwandan culture, norms and values as well as terms of its licence, said a statement issued by RURA.
The station is hereby ordered “to suspend all the broadcasting services for thirty calendar days and pay an administrative fine of two million Rwandan Francs (about 2,331 U.S. dollars) within a period of 15 days effective the date of this order”, the regulator said in the statement.
In the sermon aired live on Jan. 29, preacher Nicolas Niyibikora who claimed to be a Seventh Day Adventist pastor said women are “source of evil.” Niyibikora’s sermon, delivered in Kinyarwanda, immediately went viral on social media, igniting anger among women rights activists, with some commentators describing the message as divisive.
The preaching was condemned by the National Women’s Association and Rwanda Women Journalists’ Association who filed separate complaints to Rwanda Media Commission (RMC), the media self-regulatory body.
After a deliberating seating that happened, RMC then requested RURA to suspend the Kigali-based station for three months. RURA decided to fine the station in addition to the suspension.
The radio station has also been instructed to air a statement of correction and to apologise to the public on the message of evangelist Nicholas Niyibikora within 12 hours from the time of this order.
The station’s proprietor Gregg Schoof, who is an American evangelist, expressed remorse over the sermon in a public hearing at the RMC office in Kigali two weeks ago.
Speaking to Xinhua on Wednesday, Emma Marie Bugingo, executive secretary of an umbrella consortium of women associations Pro-Femmes Twese Hamwe, welcomed RURA decision to suspend Amazing Grace FM.
“One month is a short period of time compared to the words uttered by that shameful preacher. Women are a source of dignity, love and a strong family. They are among the
strongest pillars of our country,”