(Open letter to Marrickville Council Mayor and Deputy Mayor)

We refer to the recent events surrounding the burqa mural in Newtown and the Council’s response.

The Secular Party urges Council to stop the harassment of Sergio Redegalli and to respect his legal rights.

The use of the burqa image is provocative and disturbing to many people, and for many different reasons. Whether it was the appropriate symbol to use to make the point is also debatable, but no one was hurt and no one’s freedoms were impinged.

The mural is also legal and the Council has admitted as much in public. Yet it has endeavored to have the mural removed and condemned for reasons that it has failed to adequately express.

The core issue here is freedom of expression; a freedom Sergio Redegalli has denied to no one else, and which he asks continue to be cherished, and protected.

The burqa mural provides an opportunity to have a robust and intelligent debate about a myriad of issues such as what designates a secular space, the burqa as a symbol of female repression and the radical form of Islam that seeks to undermine the very secular democratic freedoms that we all enjoy.

The burqa mural raises more questions than it answers. In a world of political correctness and sanitized and populist political debate it is refreshing to see an individual take a stand in the face of criticism and the predictable threats from radical parts of Sydney’s Muslim community.

It was deeply disappointing to learn that a progressive Council seeks to silence a citizen and artist from expressing his views.

The Secular Party is not afraid to defend Australia’s basic freedoms. It stands for a true secular society that respects all beliefs and non-beliefs as long as they do not interfere with the freedoms, rights and liberties of others. The Secular Party rejects the Council’s negative and confrontational approach to Sergio Redegalli’s mural.