Anyone up for a Jedi bank holiday?
TORY MP Bob Blackman, pictured above pretending to be a Hindu, wants public holidays in the UK for Hindus and Muslims.
Creating these public holidays would be an important step towards promoting the understanding and tolerance of different faiths – not just at home, but abroad too.
We want other nations to look to the UK for a good example of positive integration, and for highly skilled prospective immigrants to consider coming to our country with a sense that their faith is a respected part of their identity.
The creation of two extra public holidays will cost the economy around £5-billion, but Blackman insusts there are “bigger considerations” at stake than cost alone.
If that’s the case, then surely we can afford to throw Jedis into the mix. When the last census was taken in 2011, the UK was shown to have 176,632 people describing themselves as Jedi Knights, the biggest grouping after Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism.
Blackman’s push for Eid and Diwali public holidays is doomed to failure, though. His e-petition, which says that Muslims and Hindus should have “the most important days in their faiths recognised in law”, has been rejected by the Government.
In its response to the petition, the Government said:
We are very aware of the importance of these festivals which are widely celebrated in the UK. Whilst we appreciate a new national holiday may benefit some communities and sectors, the cost to the economy remains considerable and any changes to the current arrangements would not take place without a full consultation.
The MP for Harrow East remains persistent. He pointed out that the economy would be boosted by £19bn:
If all public holidays were scrapped. That’s not likely to happen. I can’t believe any government would every dare to decide to cancel Christmas.
So we can’t make a case for or against further public holidays just on the basis of money. If we did, we wouldn’t have any public holidays at all.
Blackman sure has the hots for Hinduism. According to his website:
On 25th July, 2010, Bob was the only local dignitary to visit the ‘Hindu Experience’ where he saw at first hand the education being provided to local people on their duties to the whole community.
The event demonstrated what Hinduism has to offer to the world in every area of life. More than a religion it is a way of life and offers solutions to all of the problems of today and tomorrow.
This was an opportunity for people from all religions and backgrounds to understand Hinduism. Bob said ‘This was an excellent opportunity for everyone to learn about the beliefs of Hinduism and also understand the origins as well as the current implementation of Hinduism in a modern world.’
On June 29 this year, Blackman – Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Hindus – took part in a procession of Hindu deities.
This was a joyous occasion for all Hindus and allowed the deities to be processed through local streets. The parade was colourful and conducted in a good spirit. I was privileged to lead the parade as well participating in the service of blessing for the deities before the procession began. It is important that the vibrant community in Harrow can all join in these celebrations as we promote greater understanding of all religions locally.
Hat tip: Marcus Robinson.