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Councillor objects to racist comments about Muslims

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.”

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  • Reply
    Alfred Rosenberg
    November 7, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    What is the difference between associating racism with white people and muslims with suicide bombings? The way I see it is all races have racists but only muslims have suicide bombers. Besides, islam is a religion not a race.

    Confucious said ‘dont criticise your neighbour for having snow on his doorstep when you have snow on your roof’

    Jesus said ‘why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brothers eye when you have a plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother ‘let me take the speck out of your eye’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?’

    How soon we forget the attacks against white people over the attacks on Indian students in Australia? The cartoons of Australian police wearing Ku Klux Klan hoods? The fact that the attackers were Lebanese, Africans, Asians, Pacific Islanders and even other Indians but it was automatically assumed they were white?

    • Reply
      Angela Street
      February 19, 2012 at 2:53 AM

      FYI Mr Rosenburg there was not a single suicide bomb attack in Iraq prior to the american invasion. The terrororism of the kind you are talking about began with the Israeli Urgun http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irgun
      And the subsequent terror attacks have been in response to the occupation of illegally invaded countries. Most of the hardcore terrorists were trained in the USA military schools. You have a rather narrow worldview because the Muslim community are the least violent, portraying them as such doesnt make it truth. I salute the councillor for his great integrity & follow up of this sheer ignorance.

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