A report on the Q Society Public meeting of May 12 2012
by LAW Wells
The Q Society held a public meeting at Cremorne on Sydney’s North Shore on May 12, 2012. The speakers were Sergio Redegalli of the Newtown “Say no to burqas” mural fame, Debbie Robinson of the Q Society Western Australia, and another member of the Q Society. The topics discussed by these guests were free expression, the BDS and coexistence, respectively.
Free Expression, Newtown Style
Sergio Redegalli has established something of an international reputation throughout the blogosphere for his “Say no to burqas” mural, painted on his own property in Newtown overlooking the train lines that run by. In presenting a pictorial history of the mural, he gave those of us who have not been able to glimpse the mural in all its forms a chance to see its evolution since its first appearance in 2010, as well as promising that what he presented might one day become a coffee table book (including what he plans to do with the mural in the future).
In the nearly two years the mural has been up, Sergio has been forced to repaint it 62 times. He has made four citizens’ arrests, been attacked by youths, received death threats, and has recently lost his gallery partner of 32 years, so politically charged has his association become. In spite of the negativity, the fights and all the costs, material and spiritual, he has persevered, receiving 99 messages of support for every message of opposition. He has learned the tactics of victimisation that many who oppose him use, and has remained savvy enough to keep himself out of trouble and his support base on side (a support base that includes an eclectic mix of bike clubs, the Q Society, the APP and the police).
The mural itself has evolved over time. From the original image, it became a silhouette, and later opposed the BDS, the local Greens candidate for NSW Parliament, became a car in reference to Carnita Matthews, received a birthday cake and associated candle, and many more besides. Sergio’s intent has been to start a debate, a debate that is now happening only because he has refused to be silenced. He has persevered in good humour and trust that he would eventually be heard.
He has recently taken the mural in a new direction, changing the statement “Say no to burqas” to “Say no to FGM”. He further seeks to continue to ask people to say no to the consequences of increased Islamisation in our society, and after he has gone through many such consequences (gay bashing, honour killing, etc), he would return to say “Say no to burqas”. Incidentally, the mural in its new phrase has yet to be vandalised.
He also has plans for an exhibition which might be provocative enough to make the Danish cartoons look like a mild joke in comparison. So well may I say to watch this space, and I can’t wait for that book.
Old Hatred, New Expression
Debbie Robinson was asked a very simple question by her young daughter: Why is everyone against Israel? Having spent time in Melbourne, Debbie was able to affirm that anti-Israel sentiment was on the rise in that city, reflecting a trend throughout the wider Western world. A brief history of the BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel) campaign was provided, noting that when it first started in 2001, it was so unashamedly anti-Semitic that it was condemned by the UN. Rebranded in 2005 with more careful wording to enhance its credibility, it has successfully managed to spread the lie that Israel is an apartheid state, when it is, in point of fact, a pluralist democracy of multi-racial makeup. There are Arab Muslim MPs in the Knesset. All Israelis, regardless of religion, have freedom of worship, assembly and speech — which is far more than can be said of her neighbours in the region.
Through the BDS however, the language of rights is being used to undermine and destroy Israel’s legitimacy. As Israel goes, so shall go the West. The BDS encourages the undermining of corporate, social and sporting links with Israel and the isolation of that country. The David Cup tennis matches in Malmö, Sweden were cancelled. Max Brenner in Melbourne has often been picketed. The University of Sydney also attempted an academic boycott with partial success. It has coopting networks to perpetrate what can be described as corporate vandalism, and does so with the support, implicit and otherwise, of the UN.
The solution, of course, is simple: learn about Israel, establish social, cultural, economic and academic links, and refuse to let lies, however often repeated, replace truth.
Watch this space
After an interesting account by the third speaker, there finally came a time for questions, ranging from which versions of the Koran to prefer (avoid “Holy Quran”, as it’s probably been whitewashed and made bland), through Sudan, Halal and Kosher slaughter, Sufism, to the divorcing of our culture from the tolerance and guilt that has so ingrained itself into it.
A final announcement was made that the Q Society intends to increase its profile. Starting with public meetings such as this one, they hoped to develop a broad grassroots support base, and to, in the near future, start placing ads on buses, and through these ads and the members of the Q Society Coffee Club, invite all of Australia to come and see the real thing.