The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) will not impose a blanket ban on the use of the term "Islamist militants" in the media, it said on Sunday.
"Such an approach by the tribunal would smack of censorship, which goes against the basic precepts of our democracy," BCCSA tribunal chairperson Kobus van Rooyen said in his judgment.
Van Rooyen headed a hearing stemming from a complaint that SABC news used the term a news bulletin about oil revenues, on October 30.
"The SABC has apologised for having used the words 'Islamist militants' in a context where no link to Islam itself, as a motivation for the deeds, could be shown," Van Rooyen said, adding that their "apology was clear, giving the reassurance that such matters would, in future, be approached with utmost diligence".
He said the complainant had however not been satisfied with the apology and wanted "islamist militants" not to be used in the media under any circumstances.
'Pandemic of misinformation'
The complainant, United Muslim Nations International leader Sheik Faarooq al Mohammedi called for "an end to this pandemic of misinformation … The media purposefully engages in defamation of Islam by labelling Islam as a militant religion to incite hatred, fear and cause Islamophobia".
Van Rooyen said it would be unwise to categorically ban certain words.
"If a solid factual basis exists for such a term, it may be used … Each case must be decided on its own merits, and words have different meanings in different contexts."
The complaint related to the specific broadcast was upheld. No sanction against SABC news was issued due to its prior apology. Mohammedi and the Al Jama-Ah political party had previously approached the Press Ombudsman in a bid to have the words "militant Islam" and "Islamic militants" banned in the media. The ombudsman, Johan Retief, declined to do so, saying he could not instruct publications on editorial content or policy.
"Our office cannot and never will instruct any newspaper to refrain from publishing anything that would amount to censorship," Retief said in a statement issued in October.
According to the independent news website WND, Al Mohammedi is the author of a 23-page booklet containing a plan to "wipe Christianity from the face of the earth". The plan seeks to Islamise the West and to establish an Islamic system of world government, placing those who resist under a police state. – Sapa