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Gloucester Citizen
Gloucestershire, England, Tuesday, August 5, 2003

A Tale of Two Brothers

WHEN it comes to choosing a new Racial Equality Council chairman, a white gentleman farmer with an MBE and a brother who is the world's most controversial Nazi historian might not be everyone's first choice. But meet John Irving, brother of Nazi historian David Irving (right), ex-RAF officer, former county councillor . . . and probably Britain's only Muslim pig farmer.

Yesterday, it was revealed how the unlikely figure has become the latest chairman of the Wiltshire REC.

He looks and sounds like a traditional gentleman farmer, complete with the Queen's English, flat cap and green Wellington boots.

And, like many farmers in the West, he was hit hard by the foot-and-mouth crisis, and has diversified into a horseshoe business.

But, while his brother David's controversial writings and lectures on the holocaust and Judaism divide opinions across the globe, John is working hard to bring harmony and friendship to race relations in Wiltshire.

Mr Irving, 73, has been a member of the REC executive for two years and will take up his new post this September.

He is also an honorary member of the Moroccan community group in Trowbridge and attends the town's mosque.

He has been actively working towards a purpose-built centre for the Moroccan community - and all residents -- in Wiltshire's county town, which has the largest Moroccan community in England, outside London.

And yesterday, Mr Irving pledged to work towards the goal of the centre in his new role.

"My agenda is to do anything conducive to racial harmony and equalisation of opportunity, irrespective of race," he said.

"I believe this is the most important issue facing the country today, particularly in the wake of the Iraq war. Wiltshire is an ideal low-profile area, where there's good racial harmony and we want to build on that."

Mr Irving converted to Islam 22 years ago while commanding troops for the Sultan of Oman.

"I had spent a lot of time in the RAF out in the Middle East and had already had a lot of contact with Muslim people.

"I was attracted to it because the Muslims I met had a certain something about the way they conducted their lives.

"They had cleanliness in their lives, in all aspects. There's none of the impediments that Western religions or society have - there's no gambling, no drinking and no uncertainty about sexuality which so consumes our society.

"It is clear cut, the men are straight and the women too."

Mr Irving's religious beliefs won out over his political affiliations four years ago.

A Liberal Democrat county councillor, he quit the party in 1999 after it came out in favour of lowering the age of consent for homosexuals from 18 to 16.

He was also passionately against the Iraq war, describing the Government as "evil" for pursuing military solutions instead of peaceful ones.

"The war was a most terrible, tragic mistake," he said. "It has made me ashamed to be English. At first, I thought the Government was mistaken, then I thought they were evil to choose war when there were other ways. Killing can never be right." Mr Irving successfully completed his Hajj six years ago, the pilgrimage to Mecca which all Muslims are duty bound to make at least once in their lives.

"I'm a fairly active Muslim, I attend mosque but I don't want to discuss my Muslim practices. It's by no means a secret, but Muslims have different practices and it is personal to each individual."

Mr Irving also said his relationship with his brother was something private too. He referred the Western Daily Press to Genesis Chapter 4, verse 9, where Cain tells God he is not his brother's keeper.

But Mr Irving did say: "I value family harmony. He is my brother and that is all there is to say about it. My primary concerns are for racial harmony in Wiltshire."

And colleagues at the Racial Equality Council in Trowbridge dismissed any concern about Mr Irving's controversial sibling.

New director Dr Joe Sang said: "Who his brother is, has never come up in conversation, and I wasn't even aware of that. I don't think it's an issue at all. It makes no difference to his work."

And North and West Wiltshire police's diversity officer, PC Andy Fortune, said: "I've met Mr Irving a few times and he is a very nice chap indeed. I think he will make an excellent chairman of the Racial Equality Council and I look forward to working with him."

David Irving: A Radical's Diary, July 2003
David Irving: A Radical's Diary, Sept 2003
David Irving's family

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