“Everything is Christian”, Jean-Paul Sartre wrote after the war. Two thousand years of Christianity have left a deep mark on the French language, landscape and culture. But not according to France’s Minister of Education, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem. She just announced that instead of saying “Merry Christmas”, state officials should use “Happy Holidays” — clearly a deliberate intent to erase from discourse and the public space any reference to the Christian culture in which France is rooted.
Jean-François Chemain called it the “eradication of any Christian sign in the public landscape”. A year ago, the controversy was ignited in the French town of Ploermel, where a court decided that the statue of Pope John Paul II, erected in a square, had to be removed for violating “secularism”.
The newspapers of the French “left”, outraged by the “right’s” ban on burkinis on the French Riviera, have been endorsing this anti-Christian policy.
France’s Council of State has just ruled that “the temporary installation of cribs [nativity scenes] in a public place is legal if it has a cultural, artistic or festive value, but not if it expresses the recognition of a cult or a religious preference”. What precautions to justify a millenary tradition!
In the town of Scaer, a nursing home has been the subject of a similar secularist complaint, for the presence of a fresco of the Virgin Mary. Then, it was the turn of the manger in the train station of Villefranche-de-Rouergue, in Aveyron. In the town of Boissettes, the church bells have been muted by court decision.
Fortunately, some ideas from the Observatory of Secularism — the organ established by President François Hollande to coordinate his neo-secularist policies — have not been implemented. One proposed even to eliminate some Christian national holidays to make room for the Islamic, Jewish and secular holidays.
President Hollande, on the occasion of Easter, “forgot” to express holiday wishes to the Christians of France. But a few months before, Hollande had extended his best wishes to the Muslims during the feast of Eid, which closes Ramadan. “Hollande’s greeting to Muslims is opportunistic and political. For the Socialist Party, it is a crucial electoral clientele”, said the French philosopher Gerard Leclerc in the newspaper, Le Figaro.
This Christianophobia is the Trojan Horse of Islam. As Charles Consigny writes in the weekly Le Point, “Through this tabula rasa of the past, France will make a clean sweep of its future”. Unfortunately, France is not an isolated case. Everywhere in Europe, a weary, secularist absence of purpose and confused values damns Christianity in favor of Islam.
A jihadist terrorist, targeting a symbol of Christian tradition, last week slaughtered 12 people at a Christmas market in Berlin. But Europe is already mutilating her own traditions “to avoid offending Muslims”. We have become our own biggest enemy.
The annual candlelit Saint Lucia (“Sankta Lucia“) procession, a Swedish Christian tradition celebrated for hundreds of years, is “dying” out. Uddevalla, Södertälje, Koping, Umeå, and Ystad are among the growing numbers of cities no longer holding this lovely cultural event. According to Jonas Engman, an ethnologist at the Nordic Museum, the declining interest in the St. Lucia procession accompanies a more general alienation from the culture of Christian Sweden. A study conducted by Gallup International reveals that in observing the Christian religion, Sweden is “the least religious in the West“. In the meantime, with a young, strong, driven sense of purpose and a set of sharia values, Islam is growing.
A German school in Turkey just banned Christmas celebrations. The school, Istanbul Lisesi, funded by the German government, decided that Christmas traditions and carol-singing would no longer be permitted. The Washington Post summarized the decision: “No teaching of Christmas customs, no celebrations and no Christmas caroling”. It is not an isolated incident. A Woolworth’s store in Germany also scrapped Christmas decorations, telling customers that the shop “is now Muslim”.
In Britain, David Isaac, the new head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), told employers that they should not suppress Christian tradition out of fear of offending anyone. Previously, Dame Louise Casey, the British government’s integration “tsar”, warned that “traditions such as Christmas celebrations will die out unless people stand up for British values”.
In many Spanish towns, such as Cenicientos, the municipality of this Autonomous Community of Madrid removed the Christian Stations of the Cross. Then, Madrid’s mayor, Manuela Carmena, decided to remove the city’s traditional Nativity display at the Puerta de Alcalá.
Muslims are also reclaiming “the mosque of Cordoba“. Authorities in the southern Spanish city recently dealt a blow to the claim of ownership of the cathedral by the Catholic Church. Built on the site of Saint Vincent’s church, it then served as a mosque for over 400 years when Islamic Spain was part of a caliphate, before the Christian kingdom of Castile conquered the city and converted it again into a church. Now Islamists want it back.
Muslims are also reclaiming “the mosque of Cordoba”. Authorities in the southern Spanish city recently dealt a blow to the claim of ownership of the cathedral by the Catholic Church. Built on the site of Saint Vincent’s church, it then served as a mosque for over 400 years when Islamic Spain was part of a caliphate, before the Christian kingdom of Castile conquered the city and converted it again into a church. (Image source: James (Jim) Gordon/Wikimedia Commons)
Belgium, the most Islamized democracy in Europe, is also purging its Christian heritage. The Nativity, the traditional manger scene, has not been put up in the Belgian town of Holsbeek, just outside Brussels. Claims were scenes it was scrapped to “avoid offending Muslims”.
As reported by the newspaper La Libre, school calendars within Belgium’s French speaking community are also using a new secularized terminology: All Saints Day (Congés de Toussaint) is now be referred to as Autumn Leave (Congé d’automne); Christmas Vacation (Vacances de Noël) is now Winter Vacation (Vacances d’hiver); Lenten Vacation (Congés de Carnaval) is now Rest and Relaxation Leave (Congé de détente); and Easter (Vacances de Pâques) is now Spring Vacation (Vacances de Printemps). Then Belgium installed an abstract, de-Christianized Christmas tree in the capital, Brussels.
The final result of Europe’s self-destructive secularism could seriously be a Caliphate, in which the fate of its ancient and beautiful churches recapitulates those in Constantinople, where the Hagia Sophia, for thousand years Christianity’s greatest cathedral, was recently turned into a mosque. The muezzin’s call now reverberates inside this Christian landmark for the first time in 85 years.
Islamic terrorists targeted Christmas in Berlin, but it is the Christian secularists who are abolishing it all over Europe.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.