It’s St George’s day – a chance to celebrate England’s patron saint, and, for some sanctimonious characters, it’s also an opportunity to berate people by reminding them who St George really was. But there’s a problem with those determined to lecture others: they’re getting their facts wrong.
In recent years, a peculiar narrative has taken hold among seemingly well educated people, who have suddenly discovered that St George was a ‘Turkish soldier’, an ‘Arab’ whose mother was Palestinian, or – perhaps the most absurd claim – ‘a migrant worker from the Middle East’ who would be ‘banned’ from the UK.
The problem with these claims is that none of them are true. And those peddling these stories should know better.
It was Alice Roberts, president of Humanists UK and professor of public engagement in science at the University of Birmingham, who told her 300,000 followers on Twitter:
‘In the third century, a Turkish Roman soldier joined a growing cult and was executed for it, inspiring other martyrs. When the cult later became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the soldier inspired a popular cult of his own in Palestine…’
And it was Kevin Maguire, associate editor of the Mirror, who said:
‘Happy St George’s Day, a day plastic patriots and racists ignore St George was a migrant worker from and in the Middle East who they’d ban from a UK he never visited anyway.’
As for the extraordinary claim that St George was an Arab? That was made by Jack Straw writing in the Guardian.