The hijab should be as welcome as "bangers and mash" in England, a coalition of religious groups and campaigners have said, in an appeal for unity to mark St George's Day.

Groups including the Muslim Council of Britain and inter-faith organisation the Christian Muslim Forum said the saint has been "hijacked"by groups on the "extreme right", like the British National Party and the English Defence League, seeking to use him as a "symbol of triumphalism and division".

"We want to promote a new, relaxed and confident, English national identity," they said in a declaration.

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