Queen star angers Jewish community by likening badger cull to genocide
Former Queen guitarist Brian May has been criticised for describing the badger cull as “genocide in the countryside”.
The musician is passionately opposed to the ongoing badger cull in west Somerset and west Gloucestershire.
In a visit to Gloucestershire to show his opposition to the culling, Dr May likened the measure to “genocide” – a word which usually refers to the murder of people.
He faced an immediate online reaction from the local Jewish community who branded his use of the term as “dreadful” and “inflammatory”
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Rabbi Anna Gerrard of the Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Community said apart from being potentially offensive using the term was incorrect.
"The use of the word 'genocide' in this context is simply wrong," she said. "From an etymological point of view genocide means 'killing of people'.
"In particular I think high profile people need to be careful when they take a word like that out of context, especially when using it to emote others.
"From a Jewish perspective obviously it makes people think of the Holocaust, in which not only were many people killed but they were dehumanised to make that killing seem acceptable.
"It has the potential to cause offence but I think that most people would just see it as a ridiculous thing to say."
Jenny Silverstone, chairman of the Cheltenham Hebrew Congregation, said although she was a “huge fan” of Queen, Dr May's choice of words was ill-advised.
"Brian May obviously feels very passionately about the badger cull and we must not fault that," she said.
"But the Holocaust was a terrible thing. I can understand if some of our members are upset by his ill-advised use of the term 'genocide'.
"Let's put it into perspective though. He misused a word – I'm sure he didn't mean to say something atrocious."