By Alex Muhumuza
An American pastor that was deported from Rwanda last year following accusations that he and his radio station had broken laws in the country, has found a forum in the Kampala-based Chimpreports website to hurl accusations at Rwanda.
Gregory Schoof, formerly proprietor of Amazing Grace Radio in Kigali was quoted at length yesterday, Monday 16, by Chimpreports – an anti-Rwanda propaganda organ under the control of Col. CK Asiimwe the deputy director in charge of counterterrorism at Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI). The American makes several claims of a controversial nature, none of which the website fact checked.
In the article Schoof claims that when the Rwandan authorities deported him, it was “in violation of his rights”, and that they “even violated the Rwandan constitution”.
The American – who according to Chimpreports “came back to Uganda” with his family after their Rwandair flight dropped them in Dubai – goes ahead to make more assertions such as that he “broke no laws that could result into deportation.” Schoof implies that the Rwandan government just put him and his family on a plane and expelled them, for no reason.
Schoof, according to Chimpreports, “calls upon his country’s president Donald Trump, as well as Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to intervene and help him repossess his household belongings that he left in Kigali.” He says, “If they (Trump and Museveni) can help me, I will be happy!”
In an article that Chimpreports has angled to imply that Schoof was deported because of criticizing the Rwandan administration, the CMI-run website peppers it with quotes such as the following: “I hope that you (Kagame) know that I did not get involved in politics in Rwanda. I never criticized you. I never criticized RPF. I came to preach, not to do politics.”
A fact check would show that though Schoof has said those things, no one in Rwanda ever accused him of any of what he claims they did.
In October last year Rwanda Police arrested him on accusations of disturbing the public order after he held an illegal gathering in Remera. That was after he tried to hold a press conference in a bar there, yet he hadn’t notified management of the intended press briefing.
That was just the last of Schoof’s scraps with the law in Kigali.
Throughout his time in Rwanda, much of his religious preachings were contrary to the laws of the country. It was like he wanted to turn Rwanda into a theocracy however, according to some who regularly heard him, and his radio station.
Schoof for instance was in the habit of urging his congregation not to take their kids to vaccinations, allegedly because “such acts against the laws of God”. Even with warnings that such teaching risked outbreaks of disease for kids, no one expelled the man.
But when the Government issued a strict advisory against preachings like that, Schoof attacked the administration, saying “it was planning to send people to hell”, or that it had “taken a stand against God with its heathen practices.”
Schoof, according to the authorities, earlier on in February 2018 had crossed a line when his radio station broadcast a sermon, by one of his partners, a Pastor Nicholas Niyibikora during which the latter fulminated against women. Niyibikora called women “the source of all evil” and that “they were responsible for the downfall of kingdoms.”
That sermon angered women throughout Rwanda, and they and their rights groups were up in arms, demanding complete retraction and apologies. Schoof and Niyibikora refused to do any of those things.
If Chimpreports were after facts for instance, one familiar with Schoof’s case will know, they would be informed that the Rwandan women’s rights organization Pro Femme Twese Hamwe, as well as the Association of Rwandan Female Journalists (ARFEM) filed a complaint, on 6 February 2018, against Amazing Grace Radio.
They stated that the contents of the sermon were inflammatory.
In a public hearing on 12 the same month, the Rwanda Media Council Ethics Committee, chaired by Cleophas Barore communicated a decision to suspend the radio station temporarily, for three months. “The radio had been requested to apologize to the public, especially to women within 48 hours effective from the hearing date, which they refused,” said Barore.
Amazing Grace’s problems with the media regulatory body went even further back, said RMC. It said that between 2014 and 16 “there had been several verbal complaints over controversial content aired on the station, which violated constitutional rights, and ethical principles of the media.”
RMC added that Amazing Grace had been warned several times against airing inciting content.
When Schoof’s work permit expired in 2018, the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration did not approval his request for renewal.
So when in 2019 he broke the law, and the police arrested him, it was also discovered that he was in Rwanda as a “prohibited immigrant.”
That’s when the decision was taken, irreversibly, to deport him.
Chimpreports quotes Schoof claiming that, “he hasn’t been given a chance to retrieve his family’s household belongings.” But according to immigration authorities, the American’s lawyers and representatives had a right to follow up on his properties, and no one refused them.