defaced muralIt can be hard to know which way is up these days, especially when Islam gets involved. Consider the picture atop this post, for example. It is what is left of a mural in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick depicting a group of women, all but one in hijabs or veils, that was quite literally de-faced by an anonymous art critic who took particular pains to blot out their faces.

Shocking stuff, sighed prominent Muslima Monique Toohey, who will be one of three female speakers allowed to address the Australian Islamic Peace Conference, to be held in Melbourne over two days in March. Ms Toohey was so angry she even re-tweeted a little promotional blurb from the Guardian, presumably endorsing the publication’s view that the obliteration of the subjects’ faces was “a personal attack on Muslim women.”

monique tweet

Faces are important. They identify us, make us more than shapeless lumps in black rags. But it seems there are faces, and then there are faces — some of which, like Ms Toohey’s face, are perfectly OK to obliterate if the vandalism is done with the best of Islamic intentions. Like the picture below, for instance, which is how the Australian Islamic Peace Conference chose to depict her in publicity material for the upcoming shindig.

faceless cultists

As of late on Thursday afternoon, Ms Toohey had tweeted nothing critical of the co-religionists who decided, as the Guardian might put it, to erase her identity and those of two others by mounting an Allah-approved “personal attack on Muslim women”.

Just how Ms Toohey, “a lecturer in cross-cultural counselling” came to this bifurcated perspective on portraiture is difficult to grasp. Her Twitter feed certainly suggests a cookie-cutter leftist with a professional interest in identity politics, but that’s not much of a clue. Perhaps the most informative profile appeared in the Herald Sun almost six years ago. Follow the link below to learn more of the woman whose husband’s recreation is memorising the Yellow Pages.

— roger franklin

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