Ho ho no!

2006-12-14 10:02

London - It's looking like a bleak mid-winter for Britain this Christmas as businesses and schools seek to airbrush out the annual Christian festival for fear of offending people of other faiths.

The popular press is hot on the heels of the Christmas "killjoys", compiling an almost daily list of politically-correct do good-ers who they say, frankly, are just spoiling the fun for everyone.

One school has banned Christmas cards in class, a court has told a householder he can only have a certain number of lights on his property while a traditional Nativity play has been replaced by reggae-style Christmas carols.

And one school in Rotherham, northern England, has decided this year to offer halaal turkey and chicken for its Christmas meal following pressure from parents in the sizeable Muslim community there.

But businesses are not immune either: three out of four British firms (74 percent) said in a survey out this week that they had outlawed tinsel, trees and traditional festive trappings from the workplace.

According to the law firm that carried out the survey, it's not just fear of causing offence to non-Christian religious minorities that's driving the phenomenon.

Employers said they "are sceptical and dismayed by this trend" but "they feel that they have little choice... due to the threat of litigation".

The row snowballed last week when senior government ministers Jack Straw and John Reid waded in.

Former foreign secretary Straw, now leader of parliament's lower House of Commons, called it "politically correct nonsense".

"I've never met a Christian who isn't delighted to recognise Yom Kippur (the Jewish New Year), nor (the Muslim festival of) Eid, nor Diwali (the Hindu festival of light).

"Nor have I met a Muslim who denies my right to celebrate the birth of Christ," said Straw, whose views against the wearing of the full-face Muslim veil in October sparked a furious debate about religious identity.

Home Secretary Reid for his part branded the whole subject "mad", including British Airways' ban - later rescinded - on a Christian check-in employee wearing a small cross necklace at work.

"Like the vast majority of people, I'm sick and tired of this sort of mad political correctness that said you can't wear a crucifix on British Airways or you can't put up decorations for Christmas, or you can't call Christmas 'Christmas'.

"I think most people just find this completely over the top and I would rather have a bit of what I call PCS - Plain Common Sense - than PC - Political Correctness," he said.

But for the National Secular Society's president Terry Sanderson, saying that Christmas is being banned for "christophobic" reasons is "exaggerated and misleading".

"It is usually for cost or health and safety reasons," he says.

Nevertheless, certain businesses have taken to using the greeting "season's greetings" instead of "Merry Christmas", in order keep clients onside.

According to the Christian-Muslim Forum: "Those who use the fact of religious pluralism as an excuse to de-Christianise British society unthinkingly become recruiting agents for the extreme right."

This "will tend, as in the past, to backfire badly on the Muslim community in particular".

"The desire to secularise religious festivals is in itself offensive to both of our communities" it added.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.