NETWORK OF ETHIOPIAN MUSLIMS IN EUROPE (NEME)
በአውሮፓ የኢትዮጵያውያን ሙስሊሞች ኔትወርክ
NEME P.O.Box 5017: 16305
TO: Mrs. Gwen Dillard
Director of Programming
Voice of America (VOA) 330 Independence Avenue,
S.W. Washington, D.C. 20237
SUBJECT: Protest against Program Content
To: Mrs. Gwen
First of all I would like to appreciate the work your organization has been doing. But it is appropriate to express my deepest concern over the apparent bias your recent broadcast manifested during a discussion on the outcome of a poll conducted by Pew Forum to evaluate Religious and Public Life of Muslims in the world. In the light of the complete nonsense broadcast by “VOA Amharic Language” on 12th October, 2009 I felt
responsible to protest the offensive & provocative program and decided to remind the agency that it is established on the basis of noble American values and ideas.
In its biased program, ‘VOA Amharic language’ not only endorsed the controversial 2007 Ethiopian Government Census but also attempted to ignore the State Department’s rejection of the Ethiopian Census and the corresponding estimate it released that put the percentage of Muslims in Ethiopia somewhere 45% - 50% (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2859.html). This is a figure all too often used by different organizations, yet we say it is a very conservative estimate. Indeed, it is not in my interest to talk about the methodologically poor research or its flimsy outcome the organization came up with. But I want to air my discontent over the broadcast that lacked any professional rigor causing anger & outrage among many Ethiopian Muslims
here in Europe and across the globe.
It is unfortunate that your channel used such phrases as “Ethiopia, an island of Christians” which for all obvious reasons is made illegal to use in the public domain. As history has it, successive Ethiopian regimes and the Orthodox Church in particular have propagated this idea through different means and at times through brutal force to undermine & suppress their fellow Muslim brothers and sisters, but to no avail. This
futile exercise remained and continues to remain the wishful thinking of few, of whom your uncultured journalists are a part.
Whether by design or default, much of your precious air time on 12th October was dedicated to portraying the Christians as indigenous to the land and Muslims as simple residents, an ill-fated characterization. Although the unprofessional journalists made their personal bias and prejudice an integral part of their program component we know
how sensitive the phrase is and how polarizing its effects are to our Ethiopian brothers and sisters back home, Muslim and Christian alike. It breeds hate and animosity. I believe such characterization has no place in the values of a modern, mature democracy like the United States. Hence, it is a pity that a U.S. based news channel has to go all the way to violate the strictest professional guidelines journalism has established over the years and air such an awful coverage at a time when the U.S.
Government is trying its level best to avert any clash with the Muslim world or any Civilization, be it eastern or otherwise.
Evidently the world is changing before our eyes. After a prolonged pariah status under previous administration, today President Barrack Obama is on a charm offensive to restore America’s image, selling an America that is friendly to everyone everywhere. However, certain journalists who confuse profession with personal religious orientations and political affiliations are doing great harm by trying to undo America’s recent gains.
This certainly disfigures and eventually obscures the good image the VOA once had.
Dear Mrs Gwen, VOA is among the few media outlets accessible to many Ethiopians. So even if I do not have any authority on your employees it is worthwhile to comment on the unethical news coverage we had then so that may be just may be future programs would not reflect the interests of few individuals, creeds, religious or political affiliations.
Finally, in the interest of ethical journalism and with a view to nurturing international brotherhood I sincerely request you to look into the matter and take corresponding measures in whichever way you see it fit. I hope you will certainly repair the damage your news agency has sustained. Thank you in advance for considering my protest
NEME G.. Secretary.Network of Ethiopian Muslims in Europe(NEME) (pdf)