'Both my father and grandfather proudly served in the British Army in Kenya and I myself have devoted the best years of my life in voluntary service to Britain's poor, desperate and lonely.'I never wanted to be divisive or offend anyone, the Britain I have loved for over half a century is a tolerant "live and let live" nation and the verdict is a victory for those values.'
So says Davender Ghai, who has won the right to a traditional Hindu open-air cremation. Unfortunately, despite his proud military service and his love for Britain, the fact that he wants to live his life according to the tenets of his faith and cultural tradition means he faces the wrath of inverted commas from the Mail:
'Human right'? 'Human right'? How dare he have so-called human rights!
Yes, that's right. 436 people either genuinely think that Christians cannot wear crosses, or they're confused about what people are allowed to do by their contracts of employment, or it's just plain kneejerkery. I'll go for kneejerkery, in this instance, but I'm delighted to see that, for once, people are demanding that health and safety should come to the rescue!
Where will it all end? Oh I don't know. It'll probably end with people being allowed to do whatever the hell they like when they've snuffed it, so long as they can find an appropriate crematorium (which doesn't exist at the moment), but what do you think comes out of those chimneys on current crematoriums? Flower petals? Confetti? Kittens? This man is a proud Brit who simply wants his dying wishes to be carried out in the tradition of his forefathers; what on earth is wrong with that?
Whatever faith you might have, or if you have none, surely everyone can understand that - can't they?
Yeah, hopefully someone will set fire to you, and do the world a favour.
But there you have it. A simple mention of 'rights' in inverted commas, and it brings the knees jerking immediately into action. It must be wrong! We can't wear crosses! Wurgh! How dare they bring over their funny ways and make us change out crematoriums, even though that isn't going to happen, I just want to think it will because that's what'll annoy me the most!
For someone like me, by my own admission a happily secular atheist, this decision seems right. Other people should be allowed to carry out their lives and their wishes in respect of their cultural and religious traditions - that's the Britain that Davender Ghai is proud of. And the Britain that I'm proud of too.
Thanks to Alex for the tipoff!
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