Man branded ‘racist’ in Tregaron over Welsh language flyer

Picture of Debonair Gift Emporium posted on social media by Jason Thomas.

Peter Gillibrand

A man has claimed that he was called racist after distributing Welsh language flyers in a shop in Tregaron.

Jason Thomas, from Carmarthen, was out promoting Gwyl Gwenlli, a new Welsh language festival in Synod Inn.

He tried to leave some leaflets at the Debonair Gift Emporium on Monday. The shop owner confirmed to Nation.Cymru that she called him racist because there was no English on the flyer, but said she was supportive of the Welsh language.

Jason Thomas then took to social media to highlight the incident. Speaking to Nation.Cymru, he said that when the shop asked to see an English version, the row erupted.

“She asked me if I’ve got one in English. And I said, ‘Well, the bands are Welsh, that’s their names. The poster is pretty much bilingual.’

“(The flyer) doesn’t really say anything in Welsh or English – the names of the bands, the dates and place names. Synod Inn is Welsh. Gwyl Gwenlli is Welsh. I can’t translate anything like that,’.”

Mr Thomas then said she called him racist after saying that she didn’t speak Welsh.

“I wasn’t going to put it on Facebook as it’s childish,’ he said. “All week though, it’s been playing on my mind… I’m not having her making out that I’m a racist, though.

“I was quite shocked… I’ve never been called a racist in my life. And it’s something I didn’t expect to be called.

“It’s not something that I’d expect someone to call someone, just for speaking Welsh. I’m basically trying to host a Welsh event and try to promote the Welsh language.

“Not everyone that we work with speaks Welsh. Some of the staff are English, but they live in Wales. We’ve tried to promote as much of that as possible.

“It doesn’t have to be about Welsh language – it’s more about Welsh culture.”

‘Death threats’

Speaking to the owner of the shop involved in the row, she says that she’s received death threats as a result and says that a lot of the claims aren’t true.

“I’ve been told to pack up and leave… I’ve got a little shop, trying to make my own way for around 18 months now and he’s just ruined it all,” she said.

“I said I didn’t understand the leaflet. Usually, leaflets I display are bilingual.

“He got very angry and aggressive with me. And I said by excluding English on a poster it was racist against English.

“He stood in the doorway and threatened to expose me on Facebook and ruin me.

“I’m not anti-Welsh. My family are Welsh speaking as their first language. I’m not against the language at all… I support the Welsh Community, the Welsh culture and the Welsh language.

“But, as an English speaking person, I would like to be a part of that.

“You have some English on events that are happening so that English people… Tourists… can follow what’s happening.”

‘Stronghold’

Plaid Cymru Councillor for Tregaron, Catherine Hughes, contacted Jason shortly after he posted on Facebook.

She’s told us about the disappointment of finding out that this happened in the area. “I was very disappointed to read the Facebook post as were many others,” she said.

“Tregaron is a welcoming town and usually all businesses extend a friendly welcome to whoever visits here,” she said.

“We have many people moving to the area who are prepared to make an effort to learn our language as Tregaron is one of the strongholds of where Welsh is spoken. Welsh is our everyday language.

“Not all people embrace our culture. These thankfully are a minority but when you decide or choose to live in an area like Tregaron.

“I would think that a little research would have been made first, after all, if you visit France or Spain, English is not the first language spoken in those countries.”

The National Eisteddfod will be held in Tregaron next year.

‘Important’

Tamsin Davies from Cymdeithas yr Iaith, the Welsh language society, said that, “if this is true, it’s terrible”.

“Over recent months we’ve seen a rise in the number of cases where people have been told to stop speaking Welsh,” she said.

One such case was in a Hay on Wye Oxfam shop in March where the charity had to apologize.

“It’s extremely important that people’s rights to use the language are respected.”

Cymdeithas yr Iaith also urged people to solve these kinds of complaints through the Welsh Language Commissioner’s office.

“There are other cases where people can complain to the Welsh Language Commissioner directly if there is an allegation that someone has denied another person’s right to use the language.

“The 2011 language law makes it illegal to interfere with people’s freedom to speak Welsh in Wales.”

The Commissioner’s website can be contacted here.

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