Written by Caitlin Greenwood, Hedge End, Southampton and District Green Party
“I do realize that it’s on the edge but I have taken it to the edge to get the desired result, and that is none other than to get this talked about.” 66-year-old Mr. Miller said when asked by the Daily Echo why he put up such a controversial sign on the side of his home in Hedge End
But has it gone too far…
Many local headlines have labelled it as the most controversial banner yet while others say it’s verging on racism, but is it?
The goal of this article is to pick though this story, and figure out where freedom of speech ends and hate crime begins.
For several years now Mr. Miller has been putting provocative banners up on the front of his house, although mainly regarding his personal views on EU membership. This is after all his home, and so surely it is his right? There are however wider societal implications to take into consideration as the terrorist threat level increases, is it sensible to be inflaming racial and religious hatred?
The vast majority of British Muslims are peaceful, as per the true teachings of their religion, and moreover are contributing vastly to our economy, but with comments like this it’s easy to think otherwise. Many blame ‘radicalisation’ for our children joining groups like IS, but one must wonder if acts like this also contribute?
“It is worrying because when you take into account Donald Trump’s comments these days it is acceptable to blame Muslims for everything, and it is quite worrying.” says Arshad Sharif, chairman of the Muslim Council of Southampton, in a recent interview with the Daily Star.
But Judge Khurshid Drabu, chairman of the Medina Mosque in Southampton, said he did not find it offensive.
Although, this is a very complex argument, the UKIP member from Hedge End rejected any suggestion of racism and said he hoped the banner would start a discussion about the European Union. Although I doubt a minor banner on a complex EU matters would spike particular interest within the union, many coffee shops in the Hedge End area are probably going into great detail about the effects of this particular banner.
“Sadly those that say the banner is racist are not reading it within an academic mental state or from an academic point of view.” He continued to tell the daily star, despite what seems to be a deliberate mistake in the spelling of Qu’ran?
“That is the difficulty with political debate,” he added, “We have got ourselves in a predicament that as a democratic nation we have lost the ability to speak.” he told the daily echo
Paul Butler, said to the daily star: “He’s right in a way. I can understand what he’s saying but is it the right way to say it? Some people will take it the wrong way.”
His banners, which ask Father Christmas for the UK to leave the EU every year, have prompted calls to the police in the past. Although local police have not had any complaints about this one yet.
The Millers banner has had mixed views, from local residents’ to large communities.
Hate crimes are any crimes that are targeted at a person because of hostility or prejudice towards that person’s: disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender identity that creates tension in the community. It is an issue of rising importance for Hampshire police and there are community reporting centres cropping up around the county.
It’s time for you to decide, do you believe this is a crime or not?