The Rwanda Media Commission (RMC) has ordered the shutdown of Amazing Grace FM, a Christian-run radio station, for three months following a “hateful” sermon against women.
In the sermon aired live on January 29, a local pastor Nicolas Niyibikora vented against women calling them “evil” and “against God’s plan”.
The preaching was widely condemned with the National Women’s Association and Rwanda Women Journalists’ Association filing separate complaints to the media watchdog.
The radio owner, an American evangelist Greg Schoof, and the pastor were subsequently asked to appear before the RMC ethics committee on Monday.
Mr Schoof distanced himself from the sermon and asked for more time to review what had been said by the pastor.
“I am against any kind of language that is against women. The bible protects and promotes women’s rights. But I have not got the entire translation of the sermon since it was in Kinyarwanda,” he said.
“I have also been facing a financial crisis and do not have a radio content manager, but this will be sorted out in the near future,” he added.
Mr Niyibikora, however, skipped the hearing.
In the 30-minute sermon, the pastor accused women of causing problems everywhere saying “Who can say anything good about women? There is nothing.”
“Women we have now in our midst are prostitutes. Women brought sin into the world and when the world goes into extinction, it is because of women,” he added.
RMC ordered the two to apologise publicly, and tasked the radio to hire a content manager before it goes back on air.
“Under the media law which calls for utmost professionalism and ethical conduct of journalists and media houses, we found that the sermon was denigrating women in the vilest manner.
Amazing Grace FM neglected its duty to ensure that its content meets expected standards of free speech,” said Edmund Kagire, the Executive Secretary of RMC.
The Rwanda Journalists Association (ARJ) welcomed the Monday decision saying it was a worthy reminder to media houses on the importance of self-censorship.
“We are obviously not happy when a media house fails to protect freedom of speech and professional journalism standards. The ruling is an example to others…” Gonza Muganwa, the ARJ Executive Secretary said.
Amazing Grace FM has previously been warned by RMC for airing provocative programmes, and has had one of its shows “The Bible and Quran” banned for inciting hate against Muslims.