Women activists petition media body over ‘misogynous’ preacher

Members of the Rwanda Media Commission (RMC), a body in charge of self-regulation of the media, will next week meet to deliberate on the matter of a local preacher who allegedly insulted women in his sermon aired on Amazing Grace radio station.

Emmanuel Mugisha, the executive secretary of the commission, told The New Times on Thursday that the body will act on a complaint sent by Pro-Femmes Twese Hamwe, an umbrella organisation of women associations.

Aired on January 29, 2018, Nicolas Niyibikora’s sermon has ignited anger among many civil society organisations, which describe it as divisive and inciting people to hate a section of the Rwandan population.

Pro-Femmes said in a press release and during a news conference on Wednesday that the sermon “can bring hatred and conflicts among Rwandans if nothing is urgently done about it”.

The chairperson of Pro-Femmes, Jeanne d’arc Kanakuze, said that the preacher’s sermon, which essentially described women as the source of all evil, is against the country’s Constitution and policies which promote  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,” Kanakuze said.

In her complaint to RMC, she said that the body should compel Amazing Grace radio and preacher Nicolas Niyibikora to use the same channel they used to insult women to retract their words and apologise to all Rwandans,  and women in particular.

Mugisha said that RMC’s complaints committee will on Monday sit to deliberate on the matter and take a decision.

He said that the commission should ideally condemn the lecture as unethical and also engage the radio station’s leaders who gave Niyibikora a platform so they can understand why it was unethical and why the preacher needs to be banished from preaching evil in the media.

“Since it was broadcast on radio we believe that the radio station is responsible as well. The radio station will have to explain what exactly happened,” he said, adding that RMC’s committee will come up with resolutions on the matter.

Niyibikora’s preaching was condemned by many 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 target other members of society.

“Tomorrow he might sensitise Rwandans to exterminate a certain group of people,” Ingabire said at the conference.

Sekanyange has said that Niyibikora’s teaching should be condemned because it attacks a certain group of people.

Niyibikora told the media on Wednesday that he is a staunch member of the Seventh-day Adventist church but the Church’s spokesperson in Rwanda, Onesphore Yadusoneye, disowned him saying they banished him from the Church five years ago.