All media houses adhere to the same laws, there are no sacred cows

Amazing Grace Radio proprietor (right) Gregory Ryan Shoof explains himself before Rwanda Media Commission in February 2018. File.

A few months ago, a local Christian radio station, Amazing Grace, aired a controversial sermon that attracted a flurry of condemnations, especially among women.

It particularly targeted women, saying that they were the source of all evil and many other demeaning labels of incitement.

Rwanda Media Commission (RMC), the media self-regulatory body, summoned the proprietors and afterward made recommendations to Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Utility (RURA) which included slapping the radio station with financial penalties, a brief suspension and a public apology.

In fact, RURA reduced the fine and period of suspension but maintained the public apology, a reasonable slap on the hand. If anything, the radio had gotten off lightly.

Amazing Grace, through its proprietor, an American pastor, was defiant and refused to make an apology. He lamely argues that it was not him who made the incendiary sermon and forgets that owners of any media house take full responsibility for what is aired or written. Early this week, RURA withdrew the station’s licence.

Amazing Grace is not the first media house to be sanctioned but it is the first to patronisingly try to move goal posts as it wishes in a manner the reeks arrogance. What is so special about Pastor Gregg Schoof that the law that applies to all does not apply to him?

When he says: “This is a very sad day for the rule of law in Rwanda” he shows his true colours. Among the many media houses that took part in lengthy consultations to come up with the law, neither Amazing Grace nor Pastor Schoof was among them.

Dragging Jesus’ name in a conscientious manner to argue their case will not help them. But calling into question the impartiality of Rwanda’s judiciary when the matter is still in court is crossing the line.

 

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