On 24 September 2010 here at NER I drew attention to the case of Italo-Australian glass artist Sergio Redegalli who had painted, on the wall of his studio in inner-city Newtown, Sydney, a picture of a woman in burqa and niqab, with the caption "Say No to Burqas". He was at once subjected to a storm of criticism. People accused him of being 'racist', anti-woman, and anti-Islam. The local government body, Marrickville Council, demanded that he remove the mural. He refused. The mural was vandalised. He repainted it. The story even got as far as the Indian and the French national press.
Now, after two months during which the non-Muslim allies, defenders and enablers of Islam have failed to bring about the removal of the mural (since it is painted on private property) and the silencing of Mr Redegalli the Muslims themselves are stepping forward to take a swipe at him. Cue a Turkish female who professes herself to be - predictably - 'offended and insulted'.
From the Sydney Morning Herald, Josephine Tovey reporting.
'Complaint lodged over burqa mural'.
'It has become a lightning rod in the public debate about the right of Muslim women to wear the burqa, attracting protests, the censure of a mayor, and messages of support from talkback radio.
'But now the Newtown mural of a woman in a full-face Muslim covering with a strike symbol over her face (? shouldn't that be, 'a strike symbol over where her face would be if she weren't veiled'? - CM) and the words "Say No to the Burqa" is the subject of an anti-discrimination complaint.
'Cigdem Aydemir (observe the Turkish name - CM), a Muslim, artist (hm: what does she paint? Images of living beings? If she does, she's in breach of sharia - CM) and high-school art teacher (???? - CM) said she felt "completely offended and insulted" when she saw the mural pop up in her neighbourhood.
'The work of a local artist, Sergio Redegalli, the piece adorns a wall of his studio facing the street and the busy rail line.
'My sister-in-law wears a burqa...my mother wears a veil", she said. (And what does that suggest about sister-in-law's family, and about Ms Aydemir's own family? Generally speaking, the more heavily covered the women, the more jihad-minded the men - so Tawfiq Hamid has observed. - CM).
"I wore a veil for 10 years of my life. I think everyone has the right to wear whatever they want on their body and that kind of diversity needs to be protected".
(This - note the sly use of the buzzwords 'right' and 'diversity' - is disingenuous. Throughout the Islamic world and in most Mohammedan colonies in countries such as France, the wearing of assorted versions of the Muslim female Slave Rag is not even remotely a free personal choice; it is very often done on pain of violent coercion up to and including beating, acid throwing, rape and even death. Furthermore, wherever Muslim women wear the Slave Rag, women who do not - whether Muslim or non-Muslim - are automatically framed as 'uncovered meat', whores, loose women. In an article from 2002, in the very same Sydney Morning Herald that is sympathetically reporting Ms Aydemir's feelings of having been 'offended and insulted' by a mural criticising the burqa, Australian journalist Paul Sheehan reported that a female friend of his left the Sydney suburb of Lakemba - then swiftly Islamifying - because not only Muslim men but veiled or head-scarved Muslim women regularly verbally abused and insulted her whenever she walked down the street in normal western female dress with hair uncovered. - CM)
'Aydemir went to the police and then the council to try to make the complaint, but as the mural was painted on private property neither could intervene. She lodged her concerns with the Anti-Discrimination Board, who this week notified Redegalli.
'He said he had painted it to open debate about the burqa, but now felt his right to freedom of expression was on the line.
"There's a problem about the right to free expression, the loss of the ability to say something without instantly being branded a racist", Redegalli said. He cited a number of reasons for his opposition to the garment, including concerns about security and the rise of Islamic extremism in Australia.
"There's thousands that can say we don't actually feel comfortable about this - that's not being taken seriously", he said.
'But Aydemir said: "It's Islamophobic; it's feeding the racist and sexist attitudes we have in our society".
(Nonsense, milady. What's irrational or wrong about fearing and criticising the belief system proudly held by those who blew up the buses and trains in London, the trains in Madrid, the Twin Towers in the USA, the Metro in Moscow, the Sari nightclub in Bali, and those who mass-murdered defenceless civilians in Mumbai, in Beslan, and in the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Iraq? And the reflexive accusations of 'racism' and 'sexism' are nonsense, too. Islam is not a race; and anyone who cares about a woman's health and safety would never stuff her into a sensory-deprivation device that hampers her ability to drive or walk safely in public and usually condemns her to severe Vitamin D deficiency and all the ills produced thereby. - CM).
'The image has drawn fire from locals, and has been defaced at least 20 times.
(And every time it is defaced, so I am reliably informed, Mr Redegalli gets out his paints and his brushes and stubbornly repaints it. I think I see Oriana Fallaci leaning over the parapets of heaven looking down at her antipodean cousin, waving the Italian and the Australian flags, and shouting 'Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie, oy, oy, oy! '- CM).
'The former Marrickville mayor, Sam Iskander, said in September the mural "goes against the values which the Marrickville community has believed in and practised for generations".
('Generations'? I wouldn't be so sure about that. The populations of inner-city Newtown and Marrickville used to include large contingents of Lebanese Christians who came to Australia fleeing Muslim persecution [at one end of King Street, Newtown, there is a large Lebanese Maronite Catholic church dedicated to St Michael], Greeks - with their own deeply ingrained memories of what it was like to live under Turkish Muslim despotism [at the other end of King Street, Newtown, there is a lovely and lively Greek Orthodox Church, dedicated to 'Constantine and Helen'], and Italians, old-fashioned Italians who like the Greeks would have had old, dark stories of the depredations of 'li Turchi!' Not to mention fiercely-Catholic Irish immigrants. Somehow I doubt that if you had dropped a woman in burqa and niqab into those suburbs in, say, 1900 or 1920 or 1950, she would have been greeted with anything other than a good solid dose of well-founded suspicion.
I recommend reading the comments attached to the Sydney Morning Herald report - all 111 of them. Many of those contributing are not in the least fooled by Ms Aydemir's well-rehearsed pantomime of victimhood. - CM).