9 Nov 2010

Reporter muzzled by PP?

The following is a transcript I prepared from the CTNTWORLD First Up program where host Fazeer Mohammed was interviewing Suruj Rambachan on the prime Minister’s statement about legal aid to other Caribbean islands affected by hurricane Tomas. {53:30 minutes into the video}

Mr Mohammed was subsequently removed as host of the program, with the Express claiming he was fired and the Guardian saying he was offered other options.

Mr Mohammed made it clear (I have watched the video several times) that his religion does not support women in religious leadership. Nothing more. That this can be interpreted as being against a female leader of a country is ridiculous. He also made it perfectly clear (from the transcript below) that he has nothing against a woman being the leader of a country.

Rambachan: “But you said religiously you have a problem...

Mohammed: “Religiously no but there is a difference between religion and country... I don’t know if you’re trying to paint me into a corner as far as my religious philosophy...”

Rambachan: “...back to the ATM...”

Mohammed: “But Dr Rambachan you are trying to evade the point... you are trying to draw in my religious philosophy on women in leadership with the leadership of a country which is very different and I am trying to deal with the fundamental issue of the comments in relation to the situation in those islands...”

Rambachan: "I just want to be clear.."

Mohammed: "Wait, let me finish. I have no problem with your questioning but I don't see the connection with my religious philosophy that ... if it is that my philosophy says a woman should not be in religious leadership [emphasis by Mr Mohammed] that it automatically presumes that I am against a woman being the head of a country... you understand the difference?"

Rambachan: "Yes."

I can only conclude that Rambachan was uncomfortable, or felt he was made to look a fool, and this is his way of getting back at Mr Mohammed.

What I find really surprising is the stance of interim chief executive officer Ken Ali. He was the reporter who went all the way up to the Privy Council to defend the right of journalists to free speech. The judgements are available on the Privy Council website. Yet here he is gagging one of his own under the guise of cost cutting measures.

What is odd is that there is a replacement for Mr Mohammed (a former reporter who now works FOR the government). So in terms of cost cutting, I fail to see where the actual ‘cutting’ is going on. Unless the Government employee is doing the job without a salary, in which case the situation is even more suspicious than the fact that Mr Mohammed is the ONLY person so far who is affected by this cost cutting measure.

There is more to come from this story, so I am keeping an eye on this.