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23rd Apr 2019

Far-right tricked into wearing t-shirts that say ‘St George was Syrian’

An anti-hate group said it wanted to educate nationalists about the heritage of England's patron saint

Oli Dugmore

A protester at a far-right demonstration wears a St Geroge's Day t-shirt that reads 'St George was Syrian'

An anti-hate group said it wanted to educate nationalists about the heritage of England’s patron saint

Far-right protesters were tricked into wearing t-shirts reading “St George was Syrian #DefendDiversity” this weekend.

The clothing’s message was heat-activated, only becoming visible when worn.

Anti-hate crime group Tell MAMA gave out 100 tops, offering “free St George’s cross” to people attending nationalist demonstrations over the Easter weekend.

Tell MAMA is a UK charity dedicated to creating social cohesion and combating religious hate-crime, with a particular focus on tackling anti-muslim hate crime.

In a statement about the stunt, a spokesperson said: “The St George’s cross has become an icon of far-right xenophobia. Somewhat ironic considering St George had Syrian, Greek, Turkish and Israeli heritage.

“We distributed t-shirts to far-right nationalists celebrating St. George’s Day. When they proudly donned their new t-shirts, little did they know that their body heat triggered the message to appear.

“The prank was executed at St. George’s Day gatherings across London to champion the vital role that immigrants play in shaping our nation and to tackle the dramatic growth of far-right hate. According to a Home Office report, in 2017/18 there were 94,098 hate crime offences recorded by the police in England and Wales, an increase of 17 per cent compared with the previous year.”

Iman Atta OBE, Director of Tell MAMA, commented: “In light of the recent surge in division and hate crime, we wanted to reclaim the St. George’s Cross from those who spread division and celebrate it as a symbol of diversity.

“Migrants have shaped our country, from St George to present day heroes like Mo Farrah, Rita Ora, Malala Yousafzai and Dame Zaha Hadid. Fly the flag for diversity this St George’s Day.”