Activists have set up an online citizen petition that seeks an apology from a private French pay TV channel, Canal+, for a comedy sketch it broadcasted last Friday that was seen as ridiculing the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
As part of its flagship show codenamed DBQT, the television talked for seven minutes about the topic of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda in a way that viewers who are conversant with the slaughter have called unacceptable and intolerable.
The online petition (http://chn.ge/18OqFr9) has been initiated by Paris-based French citizen Pierre Jean Le Goffic and has already been signed by thousands.
The petition is addressed to Rodolphe Belmer, Director General of CANAL+ group and Olivier Schrameck who heads the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA)which is the supreme council of audiovisual products in France.
Le Goffic says that the broadcast “constitutes profanation of the memory of the Genocide against the Tutsi” and has urged people in all corners of the world to sign the petition to show their disagreement.
“People have decided to oblige this Channel to officially make excuse for that. A petition has been put online and acquired so far over a thousand signatures. The signing is still on, to show Canal+ how many people disagree with that,” Le Goffic said in an e-mail sent to The New Times.
The sketch found profane was entitled “rendez-vous en parenthèse inattendue” in French which could roughly be translated as “appointment in unexpected parenthesis” in English.
Activists against the blasphemy say it was viewed by 746,000 people in what they described as a record audience ridiculing massacres against the Tutsi.
“Such disregard for the victims of a Genocide that claimed over a million lives in 100 days in 1994 will not be tolerated. Demand that Canal + officially apologise to all those for whom Genocide is not a matter to laugh,” the petition reads in part.
The sketch has irked many people around the world, especially in Rwandan communities, both home and in the Diaspora.
Alphonse Bizimana who lives in Anderlecht in Belgium signed the petition and said: “Comedy about one million innocents slaughtered is once again repeating the same massacres ... the excuses are not even enough”.
Israel Bimpe from Huye, Southern Province, said that the sketch was “inadmissible” after he signed the petition.
According to Richard Gisagara, a French-Rwandan lawyer living in France and is in charge of dealing with the follow up to officially request Canal+ officials to apologise, the comedy was “abject”.
“It’s more than ridiculous. It’s really deplorable,” he said. “People in France can play with whatever they want given the freedom of speech here but it’s not called for to harm anyone.”
The lawyer said that French comedians might have initially wanted to show how little some French journalists know about the Genocide, but he observed that the comedians went overboard and ended up harming people with the profanity.
“We want them to make an official excuse. If they don’t do it, we might consider legal moves even if it’s not an easy action. We need to show the (negative) impact for this comedy,” Gisagara said.