London cafe faces its darkest hour, under fire for celebrating ‘racist’ Winston Churchill
‘If you cannot celebrate Churchill, you cannot celebrate anyone’
You might think that running an English restaurant inspired by one of the greatest British politicians of the 20th century would be a patriotic and profitable idea.
Unfortunately, that is not the case for a North London cafe called The Blighty UK – and its owner is finding himself in his own darkest hour.
At The Blighty (which also has a sister restaurant called The Blighty India), diners get to drink their tea from Churchill mugs and enjoy their full English breakfasts (aptly named “The Winston”) under a giant mural of the former prime minister while gazing at models of Spitfire aeroplanes and Union flags. Unfortunately, all of this admiration for the once-great colonial power does not sit well with some.
Last week, police had to get involved when nine activists stormed the cafe, calling Churchill “racist” and demanding that customers boycott the eatery. Recently, its Churchill mural and street art depicting the war leader displaying his famous “victory” sign were also defaced (although there’s no evidence that the protesters were responsible) and online reviews orchestrated by activists have been scathing.
Most of the customers carried on with their eating and drinking during the protests. But the cafe’s owner, Chris Evans and his staff were shocked – and frightened. “If you cannot celebrate Britain and great Britons you are just erasing history,” he said in this Daily Mail article. “And if you cannot celebrate Churchill, you cannot celebrate anyone.”
Just been a reluctant part of some form of anti-Churhill protest at @BlightyUKCafe. They had a script and everything. Could have at least bought a coffee.
— Alexander Hamilton (@ADHamilton91) January 27, 2018
The attacks were allegedly led by 24-year-old student Halimo Hussein, a self-proclaimed anti-colonialist and supporter of institutional change. Hussein has demanded that Evans apologise to the local community for the cafe’s “poorly thought and insensitive branding and promptly change it from the menu to the aesthetics and decor of the cafe.” The protesters believe that the cafe “insensitively evokes memory of the Empire.”
The debate over the cafe’s theme has taken a life of its own online and has now risen to the highest levels of the UK government, with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson urging opposition leaders to denounce the protesters.