Saturday, December 23, 2006

The alleged jihad on Christmas

This year, for the first time, I’ll be joining my in-laws for Christmas up on the Sunshine Coast. Normally, I’d have Christmas lunch with an old school buddy after doing the Midnight Mass thing at St Mary’s Cathedral.

For me, Christmas is very much about Christ. Believe it or not, 1.2 billion non-Christians across the globe regard the Christmas story as part of their sacred tradition. Yet for some reason, Muslims are being blamed for some undeclared secular fundamentalist war on Christmas. The extent to which some will go to remove Christian (and Muslim) references to Jesus is truly astounding.

In the UK , some municipal councils want all public documents to refer to Winterval. Hopefully, councils here won’t be talking up “Summerval”.

Also, one Yorkshire school offered to serve halal meat at their Christmas dinner, to the outrage of some parents. What no one bothered to report was that none of the Muslim pupils or their parents is known to have requested halal turkey for Christmas!

Meanwhile in Indiana , one council won’t even allow a nativity scene on its courthouse lawn.

This year, Christmas coincides with Eid al-Adha, the most important religious festival on the Islamic calendar. The US Postal Service have been printing Eid postage stamps for years, despite complaints from some.

So Muslims are now being labelled as the Grinches of Western countries. And they aren’t happy. So unhappy that they have joined the Archbishop of Canterbury in calling for Christianity to remain in Christmas. Dr Ataullah Siddiqui, vice-chair of the Christian-Muslim Forum, is quoted as saying:

The desire to secularize religious festivals is in itself offensive to both our communities.

Perhaps the problem was best summed up by the Anglican Bishop of Bolton who said that any attempt by councils to re-name Christmas

… will tend to backfire badly on the Muslim community in particular … Sadly, it is [Muslims] who get the blame for something they are not saying. And after all, the Koran speaks with honour about Jesus and tells of his birth to Mary, a virgin.

Perhaps a Sydney newspaper could remember this before it prints editorials blaming Muslims for the woes of Bethlehem ’s Christian community.Then again, that same newspaper did publish a rather nice article last year on Christmas.

© Irfan Yusuf 2006

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