A New Zealand councillor has taken strong objection to comments by a national broadcaster.
Manu Caddie, a councillor for New Zealand’s Gisborne District Council, has lodged a complaint against state-owned Radio New Zealand, for “racial” comments against Muslims during a programme on national radio.
“I was listening to Radio NZ’s Afternoons with Jim Mora on Thursday 25 October just after 4pm and believe the host and a panelist made discriminatory remarks about the Muslim community.
“I am making a complaint to Radio NZ, and if not satisfied with their response, will take it to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.
Caddie says the panelists suggested there would be a good market in Muslim world for dolls with names such as “terrorist Barbie” and “suicide bomber Barbie” with an explosives belt.
“John Bishop (‘panelist’) and Paul Brennan (host) are the offenders.”
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“I am quite proud of the way our country has developed a tolerant and multicultural society,” Caddie told The Global Indian magazine.
“So hearing this kind of racist garbage on the state-funded broadcaster was quite a shock to me.
“As a District Councillor and a Kiwi I feel some sense of responsibility to ensure we don’t allow that kind of hate speech to go unchallenged.
“While critics will no doubt label people who lodge a complaint as “PC” or overly sensitive, we don’t have to look far to see how such offensive comments reinforce completely unwarranted prejudice against Muslims around the world.
“While most New Zealanders appreciate our increasing diversity, the attacks on Filipinos after the Rena grounding in Tauranga, reveal how a few people still hold very racist views in this country,” Caddie told The Global Indian.
In his complaint, Caddie says the show breached the Radio Code, in particular, standard 7: Discrimination and Denigration.
“I believe the comments discriminated and denigrated the Muslim sector of our community on the basis of their religion and culture as implying some inherent connection between the Muslim faith and culture and terrorism and suicide bombers has no factual basis.
“While the comments may be couched as the presenters views, I do not believe the comments were factual in terms of the link made between people of the Muslim faith and terrorism or suicide bombers, if the comments were based on some kind of serious analysis I can’t understand what that would be and I’d be surprised if anyone found the comments funny or satirical,” Caddie wrote to Radio New Zealand.
“After school is a normally accepted radio listening time for children and the comments in this broadcast could encourage children to associate all adherents of the Muslim faith with terrorism and suicide bombing.”
Political activist Anjum Rahman says she understands the comments were an attempt at humour, but the fact is that those making the comments don’t have to deal with the effects of Islamophobia.
“It’s much easier to laugh at other groups when you haven’t lived with what they have to experience,” she says.
“Public broadcasters have a high responsibility because of their ability to influence and to reach a wide audience. Radio New Zealand has a reputation for being a responsible broadcaster, so it is sad to see them slip up in this case.
Rahman offers to meet with Bishop and Brennan to have a dialogue about this issue. “A conversation is the best way to improve understanding.
“Discrimination against one part of the community affects the cohesiveness and well-being of the whole community.
However, Rahman is happy that a part of the New Zealand community has chosen to speak about the issue.
“We live in a country where people are willing to take a stand even when they are not directly affected. It makes me proud to be a New Zealander,” she says.
The radio station is reviewing the complaints, a Radio New Zealand spokesman told the New Zealand Herald.
“The comments were made as an ill-judged attempt at humour, they were in poor taste and are regretted by Radio New Zealand.
“The presenters involved have been informed of listener reaction and cautioned about any such inappropriate comments in the future.”