Rocker Brian May has risked sparking outrage among Jewish leaders in the U.K. after comparing the country's badger cull to genocide.
The Queen star is a leading campaigner against the drastic pest control measure which is being undertaken to prevent the spread of bovine Tb.
May was on a morale-boosting visit to see protesters in the rural west of England earlier this week (beg09Sep13) when he made the remark, describing the project to slaughter 5,000 badgers as "genocide in the countryside".
Several Jewish community leaders in the U.K. have now warned the guitarist against using a word more commonly associated with the massacre of millions of Jews by Adolf Hitler's regime during the Holocaust.
Rabbi Anna Gerrard says, "The use of the word 'genocide' in this context is simply wrong. 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, chairwoman of the Cheltenham Hebrew Congregation, which is based near the site of the protest, adds, "Brian May obviously feels very passionately about the badger cull and we must not fault that. 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."