By virtue of attending the first of the series in Edinburgh some years ago, I'm on a mailing list for the British Council's "Going Global" conference series. I may not be for much longer. The latest communication warms us up for the next such event, to be held in the Dubai World Trade Centre, with a theme relating to knowledge-based economies. So why is this worth blogging? The answer is that the newsletter included the following gem:
1. In all my years of living and dealing with the Arab/Islamic world, I never heard anybody say "Happy Ramadan". Ramadan is supposed to be a month of fasting, self-denial, prayer, cleansing. It is the holy month of Ramadan. OK we know that it is also in reality a period with a lot of midnight feasting, but that is, as it were, by the by. You just don't say "Happy Ramadan".
2. Ramadan did NOT begin on 20th July across the world. In fact the date of the start of Ramadan was (not for the first time) bitterly contested. In the most populous Moslem country in the world - Indonesia - Ramadan began on July 21st.
3. And what is this nonsense about wishing "everybody across our regions" a happy Ramadan? Everybody? Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Mormons (as we may have to get used to saying)? Are all to have a Happy Ramadan? And what, for heaven's sake, are "OUR" regions? Jeez.
And you know, don't you, that the people who write this stuff can't - despite their majority cultural heritage - bring themselves to say Happy Christmas or Happy Easter. Or even Happy Lent.