A curious story off the wires made it into yesterday’s Age and Australian – as of this morning it was still the most-viewed story on The Age‘s website. It solemnly informs us that “British banks are banning piggy banks because they may offend some Muslims.”

Despite
its popularity here, I can’t find any trace of the story in the
respectable British media. AAP has taken it from a front-page splash,
“Hogwash,” in the tabloid Daily Express and it looks like a beat-up. For comparison, check out this piece from earlier in the month in the rival Sun,
based on just one local council department where workers “were told to
remove or cover up all pig-related items” (a decision that was later reversed).

Of
course these are stupid and unnecessary moves, but they look like
isolated instances. A Labour Party MP, Khalid Mahmoud (himself a
Muslim) poured cold water on the latest idea, saying “the traditions
and symbols of one community should not be obliterated just to
accommodate another … I doubt many Muslims would be seriously
offended by piggy banks.”

More interesting is the reaction to the stories: the outpouring of anti-Muslim hatred in the blogosphere that followed the Sun story is truly scary. (See here, here and here
for examples.) If it weren’t so serious, it would be comic to see a
campaign against “intolerance” that is itself so intolerant and bigoted.

One
opponent quoted in the most recent story let the cat out of the bag.
The Anglican Dean of Blackburn said: “The next thing we will be banning
Christmas trees and cribs”. But there’s no equivalence there; a
nativity scene is a religious statement, but a piggy bank is not.
Objecting to official endorsement of Christianity can’t be dismissed as
a loopy piece of political correctness.

Peter Fray

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