News Agencies – April 13, 2012
An art student who wears Muslim headscarf is defending her right to freedom of expression after a photo she snapped was removed from public display at a British Columbia university. The large black and white print depicts a woman in full Islamic scarf and cloak holding a flower-embossed bra while folding laundry. Sooraya Graham produced the image and presented it earlier this year for a class assignment as part of her fine arts degree at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.
Not long after it had been hung in the school hallway, she overheard a woman who also wears a head scarf saying she had peeled the artwork off the wall. That decision inadvertently put the photograph into greater public view, and has now generated debate about cultural misconceptions, community representation and censorship. Graham said her intention had been to “humanize” women who wear the niqab, which covers a woman’s entire head except for her eyes, by showing one doing a simple act that many women can relate to. Since the incident was made public, an education centre in Kamloops funded by the Saudi Arabian Embassy has gone public with its opposition as well, Graham said.