Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Monkeys, Frenchmen, Muslims and the EDL

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During the Napoleonic Wars there was great fear in Britain of a French invasion.  People living near the coast were encouraged to keep on their guard for French ships and be wary of possible French spies in their midst.

The people of Hartlepool were as vigilant as any. On the day when they saw a French ship on the horizon they were ready for it.

The ship however never made it to the land. Fighting against fierce storms it instead sunk just off the coast.

The people of Hartlepool turned their attention to the wreckage that was washed ashore. Among the broken boat lay one wet and sorrowful looking survivor, the ship’s pet monkey dressed to amuse in a military style uniform.

Unfamiliar with what a Frenchman looked like and whipped up with fear an hysteria the good people of Hartlepool came to the conclusion that this monkey was a French spy. The monkey – mounting no meaningful defence – was tried, sentenced and hung from the mast of a nearby fishing boat.

No-one today will try to convince you that all monkeys are French spies. That’s absurd.
 
But unfortunately, there are groups who want you to believe that everyone who goes to the mosque is a potential terrorist.

What should worry us is how few people not on benefits know people on benefits and how few non-Muslims have friends who are Muslims.

The people of Hartlepool were susceptible to their hysteria because they hadn’t met a Frenchman before. This is why we should worry that only 1 in 10 of non-Muslim Brits have a Muslim friend. We should also find ways to change this. That’s why we’re passionate about the National Citizen Service which brings together thousands of young people from all faiths and none.

 

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