Topless or bottomless?

Looking at the wrong photo

Unless you have spent the last few days in an underground silo, you will have realised by now that there has been some trouble with photos. A privileged and photogenic thirty-something has been photographed on holiday in France with her husband. Her husband is second in line to the British throne, and so the fact that she was trying to achieve a tan without bikini lines by sunbathing topless somehow makes the photos more significant…or at least more valuable.  Frankly, I find them neither.

Whilst the world was in a lather about whether the photos had/had not; should/ should not be seen, Australian photographer James Brickwood was taking a photo of far more significance in Hyde Park, Sydney, yesterday. The photo depicts a young Muslim boy, probably aged about 12, holding a home-made placard in front of him. The placard is made from a cardboard carton, and bears the words (all in capitals) “BEHEAD ALL THOSE WHO INSULT THE PROPHET”. The anger of the words stands in marked and troubling contrast to the boy’s handsome face and impassive expression. I am far more troubled by the photo of this anonymous boy than I am by any picture of the Duchess of Cambridge, whether fully clothed or not. I am troubled to think what would drive him to hold such a sign, and what would drive someone to make it for him. Whilst the photos taken in France may be topless, this one may well depict the lip of a bottomless pit of despair and dismay. (Click HERE to see the photo) [NOTE: sadly the photo has now been taken down].

Muslim journalist, Myriam Francois Cerrah, writing about the film ‘The innocence of Muslims’ and the violent protests which have swept along in its wake says:

The film is merely the straw that broke the camel’s back – to stand in consternation at the fact a ‎single straw could cripple such a sturdy beast is to be naïve or wilfully blind to the accumulated ‎bales which made the straw so hard to carry. 

In the rest of the article, which really needs to be read,  she goes on to describe some of those bales – in particular the kind of foreign policies which have angered and disenfranchised many in the Arab world.  As a Western Christian I know that I do not understand all these things, but I also know that none of them are as simple as they seem. To depict this story in simple black and white is as simplistic as saying that KFC was bombed because people didn’t like the food!

However she may choose to dress, the path ahead of the Duchess of Cambridge is relatively easy to map. As long as feelings run so high in the Arab world the same could not be said for the boy in Brickwood’s photo.

As long as that is the case, I know which photo I feel matters most.

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