January 16, 2009 07:48pm
THE Brisbane radio announcer who suggested the hijab be removed in banks and shops has received death threats.
4BC announcer Michael Smith on Wednesday said wearing a face-covering such as some Muslim women do posed a security risk because it made identification difficult in the event of a crime.
Wearing a face-veil in certain places, such as shopping centres, was also offensive and scared little children, he said.
In a recorded threat on the station website a caller says "you're head is on a plate (expletive beeped). You're going to be dead soon
(expletive beeped), racist bitch''.
Station general manager David McDonald today said most of the calls seemed to emanate from Sydney and he said Smith's original comments had been taken out of context.
"This has been really blown out of total proportion,'' Mr McDonald said.
"There was never any racism in this at all. There was nothing about religion, it was all about purely security and safety issues.''
Mr McDonald said Mr Smith's call was only to show the face, not to remove headwear.
"A lot of criminals have used this to sort of disguise themselves.''
Mr Smith, an ex-policeman, was aware of the trauma robberies cause, Mr McDonald said.
"It was never about racism.
Complaints, both to official channels and those phoned in to the radio station, were based on media interpretations of Mr Smith's comments rather than the comments themselves, the general manager said.
"That is extremely disappointing that it's been hijacked for other purposes.''
Mr McDonald said upset staff had been counselled and security stepped up.
On the station's website Mr Smith defends his comments.
"It seems this country's media finds it difficult to talk sensibly about certain topics,'' today's entry reads.
"I've been branded a racist in writing by a major national television network who should know better.
``How could anyone say that my comments were racist?''
Queensland police acknowledged that a complaint had been made by the radio station and said it was under investigation.