We would like to respond to the report aired on September 14 by the program P.S. of Rustavi 2 TV about the vandal act occurred in Kobuleti on September 10, when a group of locals slaughtered a pig at the entrance of the Muslim boarding school and nailed the pig's head to the school's door.
We believe that the plot of the report was unbalanced as instead of considering incident of religious intolerance in light of legal violation of rights,the first part of the report offered a speculative interpretation of the fact, linking the social problem with the minority issue without ground. Most alarming is the fact that this interpretation was made at the expense of underage person, thus violating the rights of child.
The 8th grade pupil is identified in the report and journalist presents decision of guardians of a child (grandfather and grandmother) to be enrolled in Muslim school by social powerty (Journalist: "Studying at the Muslim boarding school is free of charge... daily meal provided three times... the family is socially vulnerable, this was a reason to enroll child in the school) and not by their conscious choice pointed out by the child's grandmother during the comment ("Our Muslim religion is taught in the school").
The report violated Article 47 (11) of Code of Conduct for Broadcaster: "Broadcasters should not broadcast such programmes or include material in programmes that may harm minors’ socialization".
TV channel also violated Article 33 (2) of the Code of Conduct which states that " Broadcasters should avoid inaccurate and misleading statements regarding minorities and their social problems, should not promote stereotypes "...
The comments presented in the report create an impression that the occurred incident is a harmless act rather than expression of Islamophobia, which is further aggravated by the discriminatory assessments of the representative of non-governmental organization who justified the fact of insult of religious feelings of Muslim citizens of Georgia with the interests of foreign country. The report clearly shows that above mentioned respondent makes the controversial and confusing contextualization of the issue and after expressing the general tolerant phrases develops obviously xenophobic rhetoric.Journalist offers this controversies to the audience without any critical consideration.
As this is not the only case, when program P.S. covered issues related to Muslim's freedom of belief in the discriminatory context, which was partially shared by the decision of self-regulatory body of the Rustavi2 TV on May 29, we call on P.S. editorial board:
•Show more care while reporting on religious minorities;
•Even in case parents or guardians give consent to interview a child, while covering minor-related issues carefully consider the damage that can be inflicted to the underage person after airing report.
·Hold consultations with non-governmental and professional organizations on qualified coverage of religion-related topics.
Media Development Foundation, MDF
Georgian Democracy Initiative, GDI
Tolerance and Diversity Institute, TDI
Constitution Article 42
Georgian Reforms Association, GRASS
Georgian Young Lawyers Association, GYLA
European Centre for Minority Issues, ECMI
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center, EMC