15 May 2013
The town council in Radstock, Somerset, voted not to fly St George’s flag on the town’s civic flag pole because the flag’s association with the crusades and the “hijacking” of the cross of St George by far right organizations may make it an offensive symbol to local Muslims. Instead, the council decided to purchase a Union Jack and to design a flag specifically for Radstock. Eleanor Jackson, a Labour councilor, has called for dropping the flag for 20 years.
Many, including Nasima Begum, spokeswoman for the Muslim Council of Britain, disagree with the decision made by the council. Said Ms. Begum, “St George needs to take his rightful place as a national symbol of inclusivity rather than a symbol of hatred.” Similarly, the vice-president of the Royal Society of St George labeled the decision “nonsense.”
In April, a multi-faith coalition issued a call to “reclaim” St George from far right organizations, arguing that St George has no place in extremist right wing politics. In acknowledging the association of St George’s Flag with right wing extremist groups, the Radstock town council has angered many who argue that St George, having lived before the advent of Islam, should not be associated at all with anti-Muslim politics.