GPU Challenges PURA to Dismiss Islamic Council’s Petition to refuse TV License to Ahmadis

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EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA: Following a written petition by Gambia’s Supreme Islamic Council to the country’s regulatory body PURA to refuse granting of television licensed to the Ahmadiya Muslim Jammat, The Gambia Press Union (GPU) today released a statement calling on the regulatory body to dismiss the petition.

The released signed by the Union’s President Bai Emil Touray, it reminds PURA that as authority mandated to regulate the broadcasting industry, it is required by Section 230 (5) of the Information and Communication (Amendment) Act 2013 to publish applications received in relation to Television Broadcasting License.

It states that upon receipt of Ahmadiya Muslim Jammat’s application, PURA published the notice in accordance with Section 230 (6) of the Information and Communication (Amendment) Act 2013, which required the Authority to invite petition from interested persons, who seek to oppose grant of license to an applicant.

Supreme Islamic Council and the Ahmadiya Jamat have not been in good terms for decades now. The council believes that Ahmadiya are not practicing the true teachings of Islamic religion and fear that if that if they are given the platform to have free operation in the country they could pollute the minds of Muslims who, they say are truly practicing Islam.

Some years ago, the people of Tallinding had a serious confrontation with the Ahmadiya when the Ahmadis wanted to burry one of their late member at the Muslim cemetery at Tallinding. The people of the area insisted that the body was not going to be buried at their cemetery because they did not share the same faith.

The release stated that it is in accordance with Section 230 (6) of the ICA that the Gambia Supreme Islamic Council petitioned PURA to reject Ahmadiya Muslim Jammat’s application for Television Broadcasting License. The Council argued that the Jammat is outside the pale of Islam; and that granting them license will allow them to pollute the minds of Muslims. “It is important to note that the Information and Communication (Amendment) Act 2013 places the regulation of broadcasting – transmission and content – under PURA. However, the ultimate decision on issuance of television and radio license rests with the Minister for Information and Communication Infrastructure (MoICI). Section 230(1) provides that ‘the Minister, on the advice of the Authority, shall issue broadcasting licenses in sufficient numbers to meet the public demand for broadcasting services. Similarly, Section 232 provides that upon recommendation by the Authority, the Minister ‘may’ renew, revoke or suspend a broadcasting license.”

Equality before the law

The 1997 Constitution of The Gambia dictates that all persons are equal before the law. The preamble of the Constitution states that: “The fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in this Constitution will ensure for all time respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction as to ethnic considerations, gender, language or religion.”

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