World media picks up on Henry comments

By Paul Harper

Paul Henry. Photo / Supplied
Paul Henry. Photo / Supplied

Paul Henry's controversial on air comments have gained worldwide media attention.

From India to Britain, to the Czech Republic and Canada, Mr Henry's questioning of whether Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand was a New Zealander and his earlier ridicule of Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit's name have been reported on worldwide.

The furore was even the subject of a New Delhi-based newspaper's editorial today.

The Indian Express's editorial, entitled Playing Names, commented that "a hint of racism has underwritten the attitude of some nations of the Commonwealth to the Games in Delhi", and this was reflected when Mr Henry deliberately mispronounced Ms Dikshit's name (pronounced "Dixit").

"He left little doubt about his racist motive when he went on to add that the expletive was particularly well-suited to describe her because she was Indian," it said.

The paper, however, questioned whether the slur should have snowballed into a diplomatic incident, saying the external affairs ministry may have "over-reacted" by summoning New Zealand High Commissioner Rupert Holborow yesterday.

"Surely the case is not that governments should be responsible for what television anchors say."

The Hindu, which is based in Chennai but distributed across India, reported that India yesterday summoned New Zealand High Commissioner Rupert Holborow and "issued a 'strong demarche,' demanding 'demonstrable action'" against Paul Henry. The newspaper called Paul Henry's comments on Ms Dikshit "insensitive and racist", while the story was also tagged with the term "racist".

The Hindustan Times also covered the story, stating the controversy sparked by the "anchor of a private television channel" had "caused a major diplomatic rift between the two countries".

The newspaper said a representative from India's ministry of external affairs had "consciously" stayed away from a lunch in honour of Sir Anand Satyanand at the New Zealand embassy.

One comment on the story by a reader called Indian said, "the Commonwealth Games have proved that while India may have filth in her streets, the West has filth in their hearts".

The Times of India, New Delhi Television and the Indian Express also carried the story.

The story has also been one of the lead stories on the BBC website in the Asia-Pacific section - with the headline "India condemns 'racist' remarks by New Zealand TV host", as well as Australia's Sydney Morning Herald, the Czech Republic's Romea.cz news site, and Canada's Vancouver Sun.

- NZ Herald

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