Earlier this week, several Australian publications picked up on a curious Facebook post by Liberal MP Luke Simpkins, a local politician in the sun-kissed westerly city of Perth. In it, he asserted that he had spotted what "appeared to be Shahada symbols" on a local footbridge and, after contacting the Transport Minister, had them promptly removed. (Shahada is an Arabic phrase that has been appropriated by the Islamic State as a rallying call to arms.) Unfortunately for Mr. Simpkins, the stickers that he spotted on the Leederville Railway Station footbridge didn't belong to the Islamic State. They did, in fact, belong to a local nightclub, Speakeasy, and had been on the bridge for several years before the organization we all know as the Islamic State even formed.
Do the stickers bear any actual resemblance to the flag of the world's most vile, hated criminal organization though? Well, they are both black and white. After that, the similarities sort of fall apart. As we can clearly see in the image below, Speakeasy's logo is in English while the Islamic State's logo uses a simplified version of Arabic. Additionally, while Speakeasy's stickers are round, flags tend to be rectangular.
We contacted Speakeasy and were put in touch with event manager Pierce Ericson. Pierce, a friendly, well-spoken Australian man was quick to rebuff any claims that the immensely popular Perth nightclub was in fact a den of evil.
THUMP: Is Speakeasy a sleeper cell for the Islamic State or Al Qaeda?
Pierce: Negative on that one. We're more interested in dropping bangers than bombs, but we do hope people attend religiously.
Is it actually though? Blink twice if you're under duress.
The only duress I'm under right now is not knowing the origin of this huge bruise on my leg.
What makes Speakeasy an inappropriate location to plan an act of terror?
The biggest hurdle will definitely be the fact that we are a nightclub. They are generally poor places to plan anything.
What makes Perth a high-risk city for terrorist attacks?
Our world-renowned Bell Tower is definitely a modern day symbol of freedom and democracy.
Will you be re-stickering the Leederville Railway Station footbridge?
We definitely think its high time to get some more stickers! Who knows where they will end up.
Do you think the opposite problem has ever occurred in the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa, Syria? That you know of, have homes of Islamic State supporters ever been raided by religious zealots thinking they are secretly serving alcohol and running an offshoot of your nightclub?
Not that I know of, but it's possible. Our stickers are fast becoming the international symbol of "party over here."
What was going through your mind when you found out that Luke Simpkins mistook years-old Speakesy stickers for the Islamic State banner?
At first, laughter. Obviously, we don't really care if our stickers get covered up, but the fact that he covered them up purely because he assumed it was a Shahada flag and then gloated about it on social media shows a pretty high level of ignorance and fear-mongering on his part
Why do you think it took so long for this story to get picked up? The screenshot of Luke Simpkins' Facebook post is dated early November.
I guess it didn't really come across the news feed of anyone that is familiar with the Speakeasy brand until recently. I'm going to go ahead and say he probably doesn't have strong following within our target audience
Do you think that Luke Simpkins is a racist?
No, I don't think he is a racist, but he clearly has some strong views towards Islamic extremism that in this case led him to make a mistake. It's definitely weird to be calling ISIS on a sticker that only "remotely" resembles the Shahada flag. Especially when it's on an overpass in Leederville, Perth.
What recommendations can you offer to Australians that don't want to commit acts of terrorism and would prefer to get drunk?
Definitely come to Speakeasy! We're hella good at getting plastered. Perth people, keep an eye out for us this March.
Pierce Ericson is the events manager at Speakeasy. Follow them on Facebook.
Ziad Ramley is on Twitter: @ZiadRamley