Dutch theater created ‘women only’ section for Muslims

ReligionNewsBlog.com — Moroccan-Dutch comedian Salahedinne had an unusual request for his performance in the Zuidplein theater in Rotterdam last February.

He asked that a number of chairs would be set aside for Muslim women who did not want to sit next to men.

The theater promptly reserved 50 chairs in the front rows of its balcony, viewing it as an experiment to get more Maroccan-Dutch Women to visit the theater.

This led council member Anita Fahmel to ask Rotterdam’s city council whether the theater acted appropiately.

Rotterdam mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb — a practicing Muslim, and The Netherlands’ first mayor with a dual nationality (Dutch-Moroccan) — and his council members decided there was no problem.

“According to our Western values the freedom of people to live their lives according to their own views is a prime value,” says the council, which beliefs the initiative helps encourage the emancipation of Muslim women.

Their decision ignores the views of Eberhand van der Laan, Minister of Housing and Integration. He consider the theater’s ‘women only’ section unacceptable. According to him, the move is in conflict with the Equal Treatment Act.

Van der Laan has said he will not considers pursueing the matter as he understands it was a one-time event.

“Since this conflicts with the law on equal treatment I firmly believe it should not be repeated,” he said.

Though three-quart of the audience for the performance consisted on young, Muslim women, none of them used the chairs in the reserved section.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday April 7, 2009.
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