If there is ever a reason for shutting down the joke that is called “our national television”, then it’s their broadcasting a “crawl txt message” in their ticker describing the majority of the country’s population with a completely offensive and derogatory word.
At around 1.30am this morning, their ticker tape included the word “rawafidh” according to a tweet by Amira Al-Hussaini:
Disgusting! #Bahrain Television showing sectarian messages, where the Shia are called ‘rafedha’ and it seems acceptable! [link]
The messages Amira was talking about are those which appear as a crawl at the bottom of the screen like a ticker tape:
@mahmood I was watching TV at around 1.30am when my I spied with my eyes those text messages at the bottom of the screen #Bahrain [link]
I know those systems intimately, we sell them and have even sold a few to Bahrain TV in the past! I can tell you categorically that NO message appears there UNLESS an operator approves it. If it was put into an automatic mode, then the output is delayed by a few seconds upto several minutes or more in order for the operator to scan the messages before they are posted. There are some features available there as well to automatically scan a dictionary of bad words and reject the messages containing those words completely. So having such a despicable word actually appear on TV is either gross incompetence OR a deliberate result of someone allowing such a message to go through on air. On a National television channel whose population’s majority are rightly offended by the broadcasting of such a derogatory and offensive word.
Never mind that those very population are completely and utterly ignored as non-existant by this so called “informative organ”; when was the last time you heard a Bahrani accent uttered on that screen – other than to make fun of them of course – or even heard the Shi’a Athan being broadcast? Isn’t 70% of the population worth having their call to prayer marked? The sad and shy attempts at having a couple of programs broadcast during Muharram don’t count. Having a few pet-Shi’a so called clerics appear on their illustrious screen doesn’t count. We should have total inclusion in this public facility, or else, allow us to start our own TV and radio channels without harassments and without the repressive and impossible rules put in place to prevent such a thing from ever happening.
Incensed. I immediately fired a Tweet to the country’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Al-Khalifa (sadly, I intended to also tweet his majesty’s media adviser Nabil Al-Hamar but I mistyped his moniker):
@khalidalkhalifa @alhamar RT @JustAmira: Is it BTV’s policy to call the shia of #Bahrain ‘rawafedh’ now? [link]
I was seeing red.
Fortunately, the gentleman responded soon thereafter:
The foreign minister Shaikh Khalid Al-Khalifa responded:
Totally intolerable .. Btv should pay attention to such stupid incompetence or else be closed and sent to Hell #Bahrain [link]
I wouldn’t expect less from our straight talking foreign minister. He is a gentleman by the true sense of the word and know that he loves the country and everyone in it. Others in positions of power should follow his example.
The resolution to this incident cannot be anything less that firing the person in charge of that ticker tape when the incident happened and fire their immediate supervisor. The TV station, its motives and modes of operation must come under review, and proper integrated programming must be funded and broadcast on that channel catering to ALL the people of Bahrain, rather than a simple minority. Cultural sensitivity training must also be enacted within that organisation. Multiculturalism in that corporation – I know from first hand experience – is imbalanced to say the least.
I would also suggest that you write to the Head of Television, Mr. Fathi Mattar to register your disgust and complaint and ask him to ensure that this kind of situation never happens again.
You can reach Mr. Fathi Mattar at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your email might include the following:
Mr. Fathi Mattar,
Head of Television
Bahrain Radio & Television Corporation
Po Box 1075,
Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain
Dear Mr. Mattar,
It is with extreme concern that I have came to know of the broadcasting at around 01:30AM on 30 August 2010 on your television channel's ticker tape of an extremely derogatory word describing the Shi'a community as "rawafidh". This does not only disgust me, but does so too to the hundreds of millions of Shi'a Muslims around the word. Especially as we near the end of the Holy Month of Ramadhan, the very month which has been blessed with the inception of Islam - the inclusive religion which we all ascribe to and one that teaches us to love one another as a basic tenet of its belief system.
Sir, let me remind you that as you run the only television and radio channels in the Kingdom with in-house production and broadcasting facilities, it behoves you to be careful of your messaging and your duties. This country of ours has been a haven of multiculturalism throughout its history, something we are very proud of. However, irresponsible incidents like this will give rise not only to rightful anger, but also will lead to the fueling of hate which might give rise to turmoil, something I am sure you will not want to see happen in our kingdom.
I urge you to take the necessary steps to ensure that incidents like these never recur on your television and radio channels. You are also strongly advised to instigate multicultural sensitivity training and programs to your staff in order for them to know their responsibilities and to properly evaluate what constitutes acceptable and non-acceptable behavior.
The persons responsible for this morning's incident must be administratively punished in order for them and others within your organisation know that what they have allowed to happen is wrong and should never be repeated again.
I trust that you will do the right thing.
Do the right thing.