The Hedge End man behind last year’s infamous Christmas banner asking for Father Christmas to take Britain out of the EU has unveiled this year’s festive decoration, however many have accused him of going too far this time.
Timothy ‘Dusty’ Miller, a taxi driver living in Hedge End, has often courted controversy with his politically-themed Christmas displays on his house. Repeating the anti-EU message of last year, he adds that if Britain wouldn’t leave the EU, he would need lessons in Arabic. Miller denies there being any racial element to the message, telling the Daily Echo that the message was focused on the EU proposal to give Turkish citizens visa-free travel throughout the Schengen Zone in exchange for some sort of refugee deal.
You’ve got to get over this thing of racism and see that there is this tsunami coming towards us. There is a very big difference between this country and an Arab country – and I have lived in one.”
The message has brought about several differing responses from both neighbours and the Islamic community in Southampton. Arshad Sharif, chair of the Muslim Council of Southampton, expressed concern that “It is worrying because when you take into account Donald Trump’s comments these days it is acceptable to blame Muslims for everything, and it is quite worrying.” From another point of view, Judge Khursid Drabu, chair of Southampton’s Medina Mosque, pointed out that he had the right to put up a banner that didn’t incite hatred against a religious group, and the banner put up appeared not to in his view.
Responses of neighbours have ranged from thinking that this year Mr Miller had “crossed the line” to a more general sense of sympathy with the message but worrying if this was the right way to express it.
In previous years the Police had received complaints about Mr Miller’s choice of festival decor, but none so far this year.
Whether you think that this is a step too far, coming dangerously close to inciting religious violence, or that he has the right to express his views in such a way, it would seem that he has certainly gained a lot of attention this year as well as last year.