Virgin Radio DJ dismissed over 'phone call to God' during show

A Virgin Radio Dubai presenter has been sacked after pretending to speak to God during a "joke" on his morning radio show.

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A Virgin Radio Dubai presenter, Revin John, has been sacked after pretending to speak to God during a "joke" on his morning radio show, sparking outrage among many listeners. The South African broadcaster was dismissed for "inappropriate on-air conduct", Arabian Radio Network (ARN) confirmed in a statement yesterday. On Tuesday, John read an article from an American newspaper about a court that had dismissed legal proceedings identifying God as defendant. He then pretended to speak on the telephone to God.

Listeners of "diverse faiths and nationalities were uncomfortable with this" and complained to the network, ARN said. "It is important to preserve mutual respect in a country that respects all ethnic groups and religions, where people of different faiths work in unity and harmony." After the complaints, the company took immediate action against John, who has presented the 6am to 10am Breakfast Xpress slot.

"In line with our commitment to respect our listenership, we saw fit to let go of the presenter," said Mahmoud al Rasheed, ARN's general manager. "The unfortunate incident that took place was one that does not in any way reflect the opinions, values or standards of ARN, but was a mistake by one of our employees." John has a history of controversy. His biography on the Virgin Radio Dubai website describes him as "no stranger to a bit of trouble".

"His straight talking ways have landed him in hot water back in his South African homeland," the website said. "A bit of controversy hasn't hurt his career though." In 2004, while working for a radio station in Johannesburg, John and a co-presenter were suspended for a week and required to apologise on the air for remarks about the Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo. Before taking up his position at the newly launched Dubai station in January, John had been living in Los Angeles and "the nearest he'd been to the Middle East was Switzerland", according to Virgin's website.

Last week, a judge dismissed the US legal action that John spoofed on his programme. A Nebraska state senator was seeking a permanent injunction against God to prevent "death, destruction and terrorisation". The judge said that legal papers could not be served because the defendant had no permanent address.