Headline London Debate: Should Britain Make Eid And Diwali Public Holidays?

Samuel Hooper London Live Headline London Eid Diwali Public Holiday 2


Yesterday, London Live TV’s Headline London lunchtime news programme covered the Eid celebrations taking place in the capital, and asked whether the UK government should make Eid (and the Hindu festival of Diwali) nationwide public holidays.

The idea was first raised in Parliament last week by Conservative MP Bob Blackman, in response to an online petition signed by more than 120,000 people. I vehemently disagreed with the proposal at the time, for the reasons set out here.

Semi-Partisan Sam was pleased to be invited to debate the issue with poet Mohamed “Mo Rhymes” Mohamed and political activist Peymana Assad on the Headline London panel. The debate was courteous and good-natured, which cannot often be said of debates on religion – but I believe my argument, founded on national unity, church/state separation and the rights of the individual won the day.

London Live’s website only shows the first part of the panel discussion, but the full segment is embedded here, via Semi-Partisan Sam’s YouTube channel:

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7 thoughts on “Headline London Debate: Should Britain Make Eid And Diwali Public Holidays?

  1. The Savvy Senorita July 29, 2014 / 6:34 PM

    Very interesting debate, thanks for sharing this. I agree with you regarding the points you raised. Britain is fundamentally Christian, regardless of whether people actually practice the religion or not, that makes little difference (not should it). The state is founded upon Christian principles, and the majority of people still hold respect for these. I maybe old fashioned, but I still view Christmas and Easter as religious times, not that I am a practising Christianity either, but I see these times as special and respect them for what they signify. One man who was interviewed prior to the debate actually raised a valid point; if all religions demanded time off in the year to celebrate, then where would it end (Britain is after all Christian)! I think the actual issue here is that Britain is always under pressure, and comes under fire for not embracing other religions enough (almost as though Britain is being categorised as fundamentally racist), and yet for me it is one of the most multi-cultural (and accepting) countries in the world. Any individual has the freedom to practice their chosen religion, and are often even given the means to do so via the building of Mosques and so on. Britain allows more freedoms than most countries do. For example, here in Madrid Muslims have no Mosque to practice their religion, as the Muslim faith is far less respected or tolerated by the majority of people who are Catholic. I actually think Britain has a bad reputation; in some way it is as though the country is atoning for how they have been perceived throughout the centuries as racists, colonists and slave traders. I find this a little unjust, as other nations are guilty of such crimes, and worse, yet they don’t have to face the barrage of criticisms from their own people, or outsiders, not like Britain does. It truly perplexes me! I think this links in well to your other post about British values, we don’t value or celebrate them enough! So, yes we do need a day to celebrate being British, just like the French have Bastille Day. Why is it we hang our heads in shame, when we have so much to be proud of, including the diversity we encourage in out societies!! Thanks, Bex


    • Semi-Partisan Sam July 29, 2014 / 11:13 PM

      Many thanks for such a thoughtful reply, it’s always great to have your input. What you said about it almost feeling as though Britain is trying to unnecessarily atone for our past “sins” really struck a chord with me, it was something I wanted to touch on in the TV debate but didn’t get the chance. I think you are 100% correct – the proposal feels like a preemptive attempt by some on the left to “placate” the Muslim community and defer to them, when what we should be doing is encouraging integration with mainstream society and an embracing of the British values that we should all have in common.

      And of course you are quite right to note that once you start making these concessions to one special interest group or another, there is no logical end. If British Muslims are to be favoured with the elevation of their holy days to nationwide public holidays, how could we then refuse to do the same for the Sikhs, Buddhists or Jews? And how could we compensate the many atheists or agnostics who would have no public holiday of their own? Nearly 400,000 people wrote in “Jedi” as their religion in the 2011 census, so should 25th May (the release date of the movie) also become a public holiday, George Lucas Day?

      The trouble is that when you start selecting one religion or faith over another and deciding which are worthy of recognition, the state is actively involving itself in religion and affairs of church. No good can come, or has ever come, when church and state mix.

      Many thanks once again for your comment!


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