Muslim ‘terrorist Barbie’ comments slammed

A Radio New Zealand host’s reference to a “suicide bomber Barbie” doll for the Muslim market has been labelled hateful and divisive.

The comment was made by host Paul Brennan while standing in on Jim Mora’s regular afternoon show last Thursday. Brennan had been discussing niche Barbie doll products for adult collectors when panelist John Bishop said there was “a huge market in the Muslim world” and asked why there couldn’t be “a terrorist Barbie”. Brennan then suggested a “suicide bomber Barbie” that came with a little belt.

Radio New Zealand has cautioned the presenters about inappropriate remarks after receiving 13 formal complaints over the exchange.

One complainant, Gisborne councillor Manu Caddie, said he was surprised to hear such stereotypes on the national broadcaster and had to check he wasn’t listening to talkback radio. “I thought it was pretty hateful kind of comments and not particularly helpful or the kind of thing we want to be promoting in New Zealand,” he said. “I think we’ve done well to create a fairly tolerant, multicultural society and those kind of comments aren’t going to help promote that kind of openness and diversity.”

Mr Caddie said people were free to air their opinions but he expected higher standards from Radio New Zealand.

New Zealand Herald, 31 October 2011