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BAI rejects complaint that George Hook fuelled anti-Islamic hate speech

A woman complained about a show in which he discussed Muslim students and also the New Years sex attacks in Germany.
May 28th 2016, 8:00 AM 16,932 59

THE BROADCASTING AUTHORITY has dismissed a complaint made against Newstalk presenter George Hook, after a woman claimed he was fuelling hate speech against Muslims.

Fiona Martyn complained that, during his show The Right Hook, the presenter had dismissed the idea that exam timings should be altered to avoid scheduling during Ramadan.

She said Hook “appeared to believe that nobody thought there should be allowances during the Christian Lenten period and so a student fasting during daylight hours shouldn’t be accommodated in 2016 in the manner proposed”.

The woman also stated that the presenter likened Muslim students to the gangs in Germany responsible for sexual assaults against women.

The complainant states these remarks, which she describes as “ugly and vilifying rants” add fuel to anti-Islamic and racist hate speech in communities.

In response, Newstalk said Hook’s intention was to probe the reasons why exam times should change, and that he was not expressing an opinion on whether or not they should be.

The broadcaster also said he in no way likened students of Islamic faith to those who perpetrated sexual attacks on women in Germany.

Rather, he proceeded with his point about political correctness to suggest that a desire to be politically correct may have been the reason that the ethnicity of those responsible for the New Year’s Eve attacks in Germany was not disclosed until a week after they occurred.
The broadcaster states that in the course of making this point, the presenter stated as fact that the German police had now identified these attackers as of Arabic descent.

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Newstalk rejected the suggestion that this amounted to an “ugly and vilifying rant” as suggested by Martin.

The committee determined that the content of the discussion did not stigmatise, support or condone discrimination or incite hatred. It also found that the two stories were “approached in the usual style of the programme presenter, which can be robust and challenging, but which is intended to provoke a response from listeners”.

The complaint was rejected.

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Michelle Hennessy


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