BCCSA COMPLAINT: ISLAMIC LIFESTYLE SOLUTIONS – SA FM – FACTS OF FAITH
15 October 2019
Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa
P O Box 412365
Dear Ms Martin,
BCCSA COMPLAINT: ISLAMIC LIFESTYLE SOLUTIONS – SA FM – FACTS OF FAITH – 06.10.2019 – 07:00
In respect of the above-mentioned complaint, we submit an electronic copy of the segment. The SABC has noted the concerns raised by the complainants:
- Facts of Faith is a platform for religious and faith communities to have a say in social, political, cultural, sexual and general issues. It affords the SAfm audience the benefit of hearing what faith communities have to say about issues of the day.Every attempt is made to have a fair and balanced representation on a selected topic of the day. SAfm also field calls from listeners to engage guests on the chosen topic but it is not always possible to put everyone on air because the show is generally fast-moving. The discussion often gets very robust to the point of disorder. The presenter plays a very important case of chairing such discussion.
Response – The Islamic Lifestyle Solutions has no vendetta against the show. It must be noted however that point 1 of your response is in clear contradiction of point 2.
This is because statistically, there are more Muslims in South Africa than there are Hebrew Israelites and Rastafarians.
How then is it ‘fair and balanced’ to discuss morality and religion when a major religion (Islām) was ignored by the producers?
- On the 6th of October 2019, Facts of Faith presenter hosted a discussion asking, “Whether morality exists largely in a religious society?”The question sought to answer whether or not religiousness has an impact on morality of a society. The producers had decided not to have a Muslim representative on the show because this was not a discussion where they were trying to particularly unpack morality from the Muslim faith. And in this instance, the chosen guests were from the Rastafarian Community, the Hebrew Israelites and Christian Faith. We have previously held discussion that included a Muslim representative.
Response – The matter at hand is not one of regarding the fact that Muslims were excluded from the discussion. The matter is that in point 2, it is stated, “Whether morality exists largely in a religious society?”
Emphasis on the word ‘largely’ will show that the thought process behind the exclusion of Muslims is perplexing in the least, when they are ‘largely’ spread throughout the country, but were in fact ‘largely’ omitted.
Furthermore, if this was indeed the reason, as stated “…because this was not a discussion where they were trying to particularly unpack morality from the Muslim faith”, then why was there no clarity from the onset?
Where is the host’s clarification on this matter to the guests? (That Islām and the Islāmic view is not to be brought into the discussion). Surely, a religion which has chapters in its Holy Book (Al-Qur’ān) dedicated to the subject of morality should have been either considered, or its lack of representation from the panel explained?
If not, then the guests ought to have been given the guidelines strictly stating that Islām and its views on morality are not to be brought into the discussion as there were no Muslims on the panel, and that it would be a gross misrepresentation on the part of the religion and its adherents, which was the case in the end.
- During the show at a particular time, telephone lines are opened for listeners to partake in the discussion. The complainant was one of the first callers to come through. He was put on hold to go on air. His line dropped off, not because he was cut off, but because it just cut off. Nothing unusual there. Other callers held on and were put on air. The studio is equipped with phone lines for listeners to call in. If all lines are occupied you cannot get through as you line will has to hunt around for the next open line, which may explain why the complainant thought his call was not being picked up. The Muslim Community is entitled to an equitable chance to reply to what was said in the show by Empress Thandi. Plans have been afoot since the Sunday broadcast to do a follow up programme on the same topic.
Response – Retrospectively, it was quite unusual because Shaykh Faheem called and got through, but only after he explained his reason for calling i.e. to rebut Empress Thandi, that excused of ‘the radio being on”, and that there is an “echo”.
Shaykh Faheem clarified that neither was the radio on, nor was there any echo as he conducts many radio interviews telephonically from the same room. After his call was ‘cut off’, he called immediately several times to which there was no answer. That was a bit ‘unusual’ in our view.
Regarding the statement, “The Muslim Community is entitled to an equitable chance to reply to what was said in the show by Empress Thandi.” The Islamic Lifestyle Solutions requests that scholars of Islām are approached in this matter instead of those who are not erudite on matters pertaining to Islām.
If there are any representatives already lined up, then we humbly request that they are verified as scholars, and if the guest is not a scholar, then what efforts have been made to get feedback from the scholars in this matter.
- When it comes to the Empress Thandi making the comments she did about the Prophet Muhammad, Naye- the Presenter, interrupted her to remind her why she was called to the discussion (i.e. speak on the Rastafarian faith and also that other representatives from other faiths will speak on their faiths). Every attempt was made by the presenter to rein her in but as is often the case with discussions on religious matter, Guests get fiery and impassioned.
Response – The repugnant statements made by Empress Thandi is only a point of discussion as a result of poor management on the show.
This is not an uncharitable statement as our responses in points 1-3 have clarified why this matter has become a subject of great disappointment from the Muslim community, as the Muslim voice was not considered, nor was there any clear indication from the host to ensure that since there was a lack of representation from Islām, that there no discussion on the Islāmic viewpoint will be entertained.
This is, in the opinion of the scholars, and the Muslims of South Africa, where the matter of contention resides with the aforesaid show.
- This response is in no way defending comments or opinions of Empress Thandi or her lack of qualification in the field of the Islamic faith.
Response – Noted.
- Please accept, in good faith, that we are not a Station that “allow people the free rein to comment on the religion”.
Response – This was indeed what we had perceived about your radio station prior to this ordeal. For now, until this matter is resolved, and until Islām is given a ‘fair and balanced’ opportunity in matters of this nature, then our perception of the show and its management is indeed in opposition of your said declaration.
Given all the explanations above, we submit that there has been no contravention of the Code.
Manager: Broadcasting Compliance [Acting]
Response – We refer hereby to points 12.1 and 12.2 of the Code of Conduct for Broadcasting Licensees Regulations, 2009.
12.1 “In presenting a programme in which a controversial issue of public importance is discussed, a broadcaster must make reasonable efforts to fairly present opposing points of view either in the same programme or in a subsequent programme forming part of the same series of programmes presented within a reasonable period of time of the original broadcast and within substantially the same time slot.
12.2 “A person whose views are to be criticised in a broadcasting programme on a controversial issue of public importance must be given the right to reply to such criticism on the same programme. If this is impractical, a reasonable opportunity to respond to the programme should be provided where appropriate, for example in a right to reply programme or in a pre-arranged discussion programme with the prior consent of the person concerned.”
Co-Founder of the Islamic Lifestyle Solutions
Head of Media, Education and Publications Departments.
500 Ridge Road