The Dowse Gallery in Lower Hutt, New Zealand , has banned men from viewing an exhibition containing footage of Muslim women at home without their veils.
The Dowse man-ban has created widespread media discussion. One commentator has remarked that anyone glancing at the paper on the news-stand would have been forgiven for thinking this was another story from the troubled Islamic world - possibly even a terrorism-related peril in New Zealand.
“A burqa-clad woman has become visual shorthand for the Islamic threat,” says Victoria University’s Professor Paul Morris, who holds the UNESCO Chair in Inter-Religious Understanding and Relations in New Zealand and the Pacific. “It’s a fearful image… but also something exotic… It’s appealing and threatening at the same time.”
Two days later, on Monday August 27, coincidentally the first day of Islam Awareness Week, the Dominion Post editors played the controversial Muslim card again, choosing to publish a letter to the editor from Mike McKee of Seatoun. The letter, entitled “The problem lies with the prophet” accused Muhammad of being a rapist and murderer, and encouraging the world’s Muslims to copy him.
Anjum Rahman, national coordinator for the Islamic Women’s Council says the sensationalist coverage in the print issue - and in particular the use of images of women in burqas - has far-reaching ramifications for New Zealand Muslims.
News category: New Zealand.