Pegida have not only picked the wrong city to protest in - they've picked the wrong planet

Journal columnist and performance poet Kate Fox on the Pegida march and Natalie Bennett's coughing fit

PA Wire Police forces stand in front of counter demonstrators prior to a demonstration of the Legida anti Islamization movement, an offshoot of Pegida
Police forces stand in front of counter demonstrators prior to a demonstration of the Legida anti Islamization movement, an offshoot of Pegida

I would say that Pegida have picked the wrong city to demonstrate in, but I think they’ve also picked the wrong planet.

It’s confusing that the English Defence League team up with them. Isn’t this against their very ethos? “Those German protesters, coming over here and nicking our protest spots”. I feel confident that the counter-march will outweigh their silly anti Islam march. But sometimes the battle is being fought in subtle ways which are even harder to counter than big blokes with small minds and loud mouths.

Yesterday a BBC survey into Muslim attitudes found that 93% of 1,000 surveyed thought you should obey British laws in Britain and 95% felt loyal to Britain (a far higher than non Muslims).

Nearly half felt that prejudice against Islam makes it hard to be a Muslim in Britain.

There is a story here about unjust prejudices towards a minority group. But the headline in the right wing Daily Mail and Evening Standard? It was about how over a quarter of Muslims feel some sympathy with the Charlie Hebdo bombers.

The Muslim girls’ writing group I run recently discussed what to call their anthology. Lots of very general suggestions like “Written in Stone” and “Journey to Creativity” but then one girl suggested “No, I Don’t Sleep in It” because of a question a woman had asked about her headscarf.

This sparked a fascinating conversation with some of them saying a humorous title like that would show they weren’t oppressed or abnormal in the way some people thought, and others saying this should just be about showing their creativity and not refer to religion or politics.

I’m glad they were having this conversation but also sad and angry that they feel so misunderstood.

Countering this will have to happen in the pages of newspapers and on TV as well as on the streets.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett

Like most people who heard it I winced through Green Party leader Natalie Bennett’s radio interview about housing this week. She herself called it “excruciating”.

It was even more painful than hearing David Cameron go on about benefit scroungers being to blame for the country’s ills instead of tax dodging big business and banks.

She hummed and erred and failed to answer questions on her party’s policy detail and when all else failed she exploded into a bout of agonised coughing and explained that she had a cold.

I know it raises questions about the viability of the fastest growing party and only real alternative to Labour on the left. I know it raises questions about her abilities as a party leader who should be able to discourse comfortably on all areas of policy not three months before a General Election, as well as answer questions on the price of milk, their favourite album and which member of One Direction they would snog if they absolutely had to.

But for me the biggest question it raises is - why do people insist on going into work when they have a cold? Colds make it harder to speak, harder to think and cause infectious misery. Bennett probably shook hands with 100 people that day. You’re meant to kiss babies, not sneeze on them.

Her radio interviewer probably found her conversation memorable because he’ll now be coughing his own guts up just like she did before she passed on her ailment.

Maybe that interview is the best illustration there could be of why people should stay at home when they’re viral.

Unless it’s part of a Green Party master plan. Perhaps they’ve got lots of bacteriologists beavering away in a lab so that when they finally manage to get a platform on the TV debate, dozens of their activists are planted in the studio and spread manufactured germs straight up Cameron and Miliband and Farage’s noses.

By the time they’ve all gone to bed a week before the election with man-flu, or coughed up a bacon sandwich, blamed a massively racist comment on too much Lemsip or projectile ejected their own eyeballs during a sneezing fit, the Greens will have got the election in the bag.

There are still some free tickets available for the Radio 4 recordings of Kate Fox’s comedy shows about not wanting children or a white wedding. 8pm on Tuesday March 17th. Contact Live Theatre box office 0191 2321232


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