Cambridgeshire councillor apologises after tweeting bacon picture as he begins ‘solidarity’ Ramadan fast
A councillor has apologised after beginning a one-day “solidarity” Ramadan fast by posting a picture of his breakfast plate of bacon.
Ian Manning, a Liberal Democrat Cambridgeshire county councillor for Chesterton, tweeted on Saturday (April 25) to say he was joining in with a wider campaign by his party to practice a day of fasting to mark the beginning of Ramadan and raise money and awareness to tackle food poverty.
The councillor said he was “not thinking clearly” when he posted the picture of his breakfast early in the morning.
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, and a time when some in the Muslim faith fast through the daylight hours. For Muslims, the holy month commemorates the revelation of the Quran to the prophet Mohammed, and abstaining from food and water is accompanied by heightened spiritual reflection and worship. This year Ramadan takes place from April 23 to May 23.
Cllr Manning said on Twitter: “Up early to start my fast for #Libdemlftar. Not really sure I’ll get through the evening but we’ll see!”
His comment was accompanied by a picture of his breakfast of eggs and bacon.
Cllr Manning also tagged the official twitter account of the Muslim Council of Britain into the tweet.
Islamic law prohibits Muslims from eating pork.
Cllr Manning deleted the tweet after hundreds of people commented on it and on other posts to criticise and mock him.
His post was described as “insensitive,” “utterly stupid” and criticised for demonstrating a negative aspect of what critics described as “cultural appropriation”.
There have been reports of people posting pictures of pork on social media throughout Ramadan in previous years as an attempt at trolling or causing deliberate offence.
There is no suggestion Cllr Manning intended to cause any offence, but the councillor has since apologised, calling it a “mistake”.
“This is a learning experience, and I’d prefer to be honest about it than not. Sorry if it caused offence,” Cllr Manning said on Twitter.
In a longer statement, Cllr Manning said: “I fasted to draw attention to those in food poverty and to go through a fraction of what my Muslim friends go through during Ramadan, and to raise money for the Cambridge food bank appeal bit.ly/CamFoodbankAppeal .
“My own diet, outside of the fasting, is not really the point. But in hindsight, tweeting a picture of the eggs and bacon was a mistake, but it was 3.30am – I was tired and not thinking clearly.
“My main worry was that I’d let my friends and the Muslim organisers of LibDemIftar down – but they didn’t see what the fuss was about as I’m not Muslim.
“Please consider a donation to the foodbank.”
Cllr Manning was then further criticised on social media for saying Muslims “don’t choose to be Muslim,” when questioning another Twitter user’s criticism of cultural appropriation. Cllr Manning was defending the solidarity fast, comparing it to joining in with LGBT pride parades.
Cllr Manning said: “Both are about showing solidarity with a minority group at that group’s request. Muslims don’t ‘choose’ to be muslim (clearly there are other differences)”.
In a statement sent to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Cllr Manning said: “Most Muslims, in fact most people, are born into a culture, identity, religion or not – and in the UK Muslims are a minority group that I’ve seen first hand – literally to my face – have to put up with prejudice towards their religion, often race, ethnicity and even their Britishness.
“In this context to suggest it’s a ‘choice’ and that therefore we shouldn’t support them, when they ask us to, is clearly incorrect. This doesn’t take away that people can leave or join Islam as they can any religion.”