‘I’m Muslim but I refuse to be bullied into not putting up my Christmas tree’ – Anila Baig

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Every year there’s a vocal minority of people who think a Muslim woman putting up a Christmas tree is an unspeakable crime. Guess what? I don’t care, writes Anila Baig

“Amir Khan got so much abuse and even received a death threat when he posted a picture on social media of his tree with his little daughter excitedly opening presents. Classy”

It is officially the season of goodwill to all mankind – unless you are a Muslim who is committing an unspeakable crime.

The radio might be blaring out “It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid,” but some of us are very scared indeed.

What is this heinous act a section of the Muslim community indulges in?

It is the crime of putting up a Christmas tree.

Forget hanging up baubles and tinsel, there are those who think putting up a tree or getting into the festive spirit should be a hangable offence.

Yep, just as December gets under way the predictable comments on social media from some sections of the community are coming thick and fast.

“Muslims buying Christmas trees, what has the world come to? This is totally haram ,” they cry. Haram means the opposite of halal – so not permitted.

There are some who even go as far as to say wishing someone a Merry Christmas is against the religion.

Er, no, it isn’t. It’s haram-less, in my opinion.

I don’t understand why some people get so het up about the whole thing. Bolton boxer Amir Khan got so much abuse and even received a death threat when he posted a picture on social media of his full bodied tree with his little daughter excitedly opening presents.

Classy.

Footballer Mohammed Salah got exactly the same treatment.

“He is Muslim, he shouldn’t be putting up a Christmas tree. And his daughter should be wearing a headscarf!” were some of the comments I saw.

I feel sorry for these Christmas killjoys.

True, we didn’t have a tradition of putting up Christmas trees when we were younger.

We were brought up in a strict Muslim household but that didn’t mean we didn’t acknowledge Christmas. Quite the opposite in fact.

I have lovely memories of sitting at the feet of my parents helping to wrap presents while they wrote out cards to distribute to their Christian friends and neighbours. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling especially as neither of them are here anymore.

My mum and dad were both so proud when my younger brother bagged the coveted role of Joseph in the school nativity – Jesus is, after all, regarded as a prominent figure in our own Islamic faith.

We don’t have a tradition of celebrating the birth of our prophets, but that doesn’t mean we object to anyone else enjoying their festivals.

And what do trees really have to do with Christmas?

They were only introduced relatively recently in this country when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert popularised the German tradition in the 1800s.

They look warm and twinkly and brighten up a room on these dreary dark nights.

The irony is that I always see lots of Muslim families in the run-up to Christmas at the supermarket stocking up on spuds and Brussel sprouts and boxes of crackers, while our Pakistani butchers have been taking orders for halal turkeys for years.

At the end of the day there are far bigger issues to get het up about than whether someone has put up a tree. I don’t recall hearing the same outrage over the disgusting men who were jailed earlier this week for a litany of crimes against young girls in the north of England.

Now that really is crackers.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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