Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Voice of Islam – speaker made comments about the Bible and the Qur’an – stated that there were inconsistencies between the contents of the Bible which did not exist in the Qur’an – allegedly in breach of discrimination and denigration standard
Standard 7 (discrimination and denigration) – religious programme – expression of opinion – comments did not encourage denigration or discrimination – not upheld
This headnote does not form part of the decision.
 Voice of Islam was broadcast on Triangle TV at 11.30am on 27 November 2010. During the programme a lecture entitled “Beyond the Differences” was given by a Muslim Chaplain and former Christian preacher.
 The speaker discussed what he considered to be the differences between the Bible and the Qur’an. He stated:
I finally came to the conclusion that the Bible and the Qur’an really don’t have any argument between them, except where the Bible argues with itself. Other than that they’re the same message.
 The speaker cited several verses from the Bible and pointed out alleged inconsistencies. He said that the Qur’an did not “argue with itself” and “resolves the issues that the remnants of the Bible present”. He stated, “If you’re a Christian the best thing you can do to understand your Bible is pick up the Qur’an and read it”.
 Later in the lecture, the speaker cited a verse from the Qur’an, and questioned whether it inferred that the only religion that God would accept was Islam. He stated, “that’s not fair ... the only way God is going to accept you is if you submit to what he has ordained to be your religion, your way”. He said that it was the obligation of Muslims to live the “truth” and teach it by example.
 At the end of the lecture, the speaker answered questions from the audience about Islam. In response to a question about why Muslim men could marry non-Muslim women but Muslim women could not marry non-Muslim men, he stated that Muslim men “always influence their wives” and that even if the woman stayed a “good Christian lady” she could still raise children “the right way”.
 Joselito Paraiso made a formal complaint to Triangle Television Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the item breached broadcasting standards. The complainant argued that item was “attacking the Christian faith while promoting Islam” and considered that this was “very offensive in a country that promotes equality among different religions or faiths”.
 Triangle TV assessed the complaint under Standard 7 and guideline 7a of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. They provide:
Standard 7 Discrimination and Denigration
Broadcasters should not encourage discrimination against, or denigration of, any section of the community on account of sex, sexual orientation, race, age, disability, occupational status, or as a consequence of legitimate expression of religion, culture or political belief.
This standard is not intended to prevent the broadcast of material that is:
- the expression of genuinely held opinion in news, current affairs or other factual programmes
- legitimate humour, drama or satire.
 Triangle TV argued that the programme did not “denigrate or attack” other religions. It said that the speaker’s comments focused on the similarities and differences between the Bible and the Qur’an, and that he was not “proselytising on behalf of his religion”. Accordingly, the broadcaster declined to uphold the complaint.
 Dissatisfied with the broadcaster’s response, Joselito Paraiso referred the complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.
 The complainant argued that “the tone of the speaker’s voice including his use of words all point to the fact that he [was] ‘denigrating’ the Christian faith”, and maintained that the speaker was promoting the Islamic faith.
 The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.
 Standard 7 protects against broadcasts which encourage denigration of, or discrimination against, a section of the community. It is well-established that in light of the requirements of the Bill of Rights Act 1990, a high level of invective is necessary for the Authority to conclude that a broadcast encourages denigration or discrimination in contravention of the standard (see, for example, McCartain and Angus and The Radio Network1).
 Having considered the content of the programme, we find that Voice of Islam was a sermon which expressed the speaker’s opinions and was based on his religious ideology. We note that democratic societies place a high value on freedom of expression and that this includes the right to advocate one’s personal beliefs. Further, we note that the right to free speech guaranteed by section 14 of the Bill of Rights Act 1990 includes the right to be critical of, and even disrespectful towards, other religions.
 In our view, the speaker expressed his beliefs regarding what he considered to be inconsistencies between verses of the Bible that did not exist in the Qu’ran in a thoughtful and straight-forward manner. We do not consider that his comments encouraged denigration of, or discrimination against, Christians or those not adhering to Islam. Accordingly, we decline to uphold the Standard 7 complaint.
For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority
22 February 2011
The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:
1 Joselito Paraiso’s formal complaint – 28 November 2010
2 Triangle TV’s response to the formal complaint – 29 November 2010
3 Joselito Paraiso’s referral to the Authority – 30 November 2010
4 Triangle TV’s response to the Authority – 6 December 2010
1Decision No. 2002-152