Dismissed co�host of First Up, Fazeer Mohammed was "politically victimised" for his independent performance on State-owned Caribbean New Media Group (CNMG).
This, according to the president of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers Wesley Gibbings. Contacted yesterday Gibbings said: "I do not think anyone truly believes that Mr Mohammed was relieved of his duties for cost-cutting purposes, as explained to him on Saturday. "Let's get that out of the way. "Even the more enthusiastic supporters of his removal are not citing any kind of financial challenge as being responsible for the move." Gibbings echoed the questions by the Media Association of T&T (MATT) over Mohammed's "firing." MATT in a release, demanded "to know why and at what level the decision was taken to terminate Mr Mohammed's employment with the station."
In a interview on Monday, Mohammed said he was not "fired" but "was taken off the programme." CNMG's interim chief executive officer Ken Ali said the move was to facilitate "cost-cutting measures." Gibbings however, said: "It is my personal belief that Mr Mohammed was punished for his line of questioning on the issue of the Prime Minister's remarks concerning assistance for Caricom states following Hurricane Tomas. "It is also my understanding that a high level of discomfort with his performance as co�host of the programme had, in both the recent and distant past, been expressed by senior politicians.
"In other words, Mr Mohammed has been politically victimised on account of his independent performance as a talk show host on the state-owned radio and television network." Meanwhile, veteran journalist Raoul Pantin, who experienced a similar situation in 1975, said he "was totally against it." He said he e-mailed Mohammed telling him not to worry and reminded him of his own dismissal by state-owned Radio 610. "This is ridiculous. I think the Prime Minister has to make a statement about this. It is absurd."
Pantin said journalists had to be free to report the news and voice their opinions since the Constitution allowed freedom of expression. He added: "The circumstances here are very suspicious." Gibbings also hoped Mohammed's response "to an inappropriate question" was not a violation of free expression or an infringement of freedom of the press with respect to the independent performance of a media operative.
Support for Fazeer
The decision by Ali to remove Mohammed from the talk show which is co-hosted by Jessie May Ventour has sparked contention among loyal First Up fans and other concerned citizens. Support was demonstrated via three pages on social networking site � Facebook. Justice for Fazeer Mohammed, We Support Fazeer Mohammed and We Support Fazeer Mohammed! We Stand Up for Justice and Freedom Of Speech are some of the comments from upset and angry supporters. Several people also stated they had stopped viewing the show.