(Update): Brussels replaces traditional Christmas tree with “modern art”, insisting that it is merely a pagan symbol, the right wing blames it on Muslims

What will become of Europe? Too much madness.

(newest update: after some patient research it turns out that the CD&V (Christian Democratic Party of Flanders, a party with strong Catholic tradition) member Mrs. Bianca Debaets, who was quoted widely by right wing blogs and news agencies states on her website that she was misquoted and her word distorted:

I find that my plea for a traditional Christmas tree in the Grand Place is found distorted in various media / blogs. I want to emphasize that some interpretations are the sole responsibility of some journalists and bloggers. For clarity, I highlighted the major lines of the press release that I made about it. (a quick google translation, which is fine for a short passage like this)

( Original: Ik stel vast dat mijn pleidooi om de traditionele kerstboom op de Brusselse Grote Markt te behouden een eigen leven gaat leiden. Ik wil daarbij benadrukken dat bepaalde interpretaties en toevoegingen geheel voor rekening zijn van sommige bloggers/journalisten. Voor alle duidelijkheid hierbij het persbericht zoals het door mij werd verstuurd.

Je constate que mon plaidoyer pour un arbre de Noël traditionnel à la Grand-Place se retrouve déformé dans plusieurs médias/blogs. Je tiens à souligner que certaines interprétations sont de la seule responsabilité de certains journalistes et blogueurs. Pour plus de clarté, je vous fait part des grandes lignes du communiqué de presse que j’ai formulé à ce sujet.)

Update: (from yahoo.news.uk) A petition calling for a real Christmas tree in Brussels’ Grand Place has attracted 10,000 signatures. Angering traditionalists, the Belgian city’s tourist board has commissioned a 25-metre installation made from screens that will put on light and sound displays. Reassuring people that the festivities will be just as authentic, president of Brussels Tourism Philippe Close said: “Let’s be clear, there’ll be a Christmas tree and a nativity scene. Christmas traditions will be respected. “The theme this year is “winter pleasures” at the huge Christmas market that has a worldwide reputation. We wanted to emphasize culture and modernity, so asked artists to reinvent the Christmas tree, which is actually a pagan symbol,” he explained. There have been attempts to stir racial tensions, with some falsely blaming the switch from the usual real Christmas tree on offended Muslims.

And a rumour to be found widely across the web, mostly originated from the right wing website Gatewaypundit, says that Muslims were to be blamed for this new installation. But is also picked up by Christians who haven’t the time to do the research. A lesson: one must always be careful when one comes across incentive news on the web.

An example:

From Goddiscussion.com

BY AL STEFANELLI

Belgian government officials in Brussels have banned a Christmas tree exhibit after concerns were expressed by the local Muslim population that the display was offensive.
The Christmas tree will be replaced by an ‘electric winter tree,’ at the city center of Grand Place, Brussels.

“electronic sculpture”

The tree, billed as ‘electronic sculpture,’ will stand over eighty feet tall, and include multiple video screens. Visitors will be able to climb to the top of the tree during the daylight hours to enjoy a view of the city. At sunset, a light and sound show will rotate about every ten minutes.

It is hoped that replacing the Christmas tree with the electronic sculpture will be well received by the entirety of the citizenry.

Bianca Debaets, who sits on the city council, said the reference to the Christian religionwas the deciding factor in replacing the tree. She stated,

“For a lot of people who are not Christians, the tree there is offensive to them.”

Belgium is home to a growing Muslim population  with Brussels being the most populated city at approximately 25 percent. Other areas of Belgium have Muslim populations in the single digit percentiles.

Recently, two Muslims city council members vowed to transform Belgium into a Muslim theocracy, culed by Sharia law.

Mayor Thielemans office has stated that although the Christmas tree will be replaced, the Nativity scene will remain at Grand Place.

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15 Responses to (Update): Brussels replaces traditional Christmas tree with “modern art”, insisting that it is merely a pagan symbol, the right wing blames it on Muslims

  1. toadspittle says:

    .

    Then the silly burghers of Brussels need their sprouts examined.

    Thinks Toad, who is partial to Christmas trees. (Probably the hidden pansexual in him.)

    The “electronic sculpture sounds” unspeakable.

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  2. Pastorious says:

    When I first saw this article, I was so annoyed that anyone should attempt to ban a Christian festival in Europe. Not only that, it was Muslims shooting themselves in the foot, or topically ‘turkeys voting for Xmas’. Having been in a Middle East country where women wearing a crucifix was frowned on, but not actually banned, I thought that the Xmas tree ban was outrageous, mad.

    Then I thought of The Who lyric “We won’t get fooled again”…..

    So I looked around, (and I’m sorry I can’t do links,) and saw this on Euronews:

    “There have been attempts to stir racial tension, with some falsely blaming the switch from the usual real Xmas tree on offended Muslims”.

    I have, I believe, annoyed some on here for speaking against what I saw as a Muslim witch hunt in the press and elsewhere. This is because I know (and I hope you know) about Krystallnacht and the buildup to the horrors that befell the Jews, and I similarly detest the tide of resentment that I see happening now. As Bertolt Brecht said in ‘The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui’, referring to the rise of intolerance, ‘The bitch that brewed it is in heat again’. I have no time at all for certain aspects of Islam which are appalling, but I will complain (to my cost) about another tide of antireligious feeling against Islam, yet which in many respects I find totally unacceptable.

    There have been articles on CPS about the bigotry against Christians in Egypt. Think about it. What rubbish were Egyptians fed by bigots against Christians? What is happening now in Europe?

    In the UK we had in the past a campaign which alleged that councils banned black binbags because it offended Africans in the UK. This was of course proven false, though the smear lingers. I refuse to be manipulated by this kind of bigotry, especially as I’m old enough to see the targets shift. Irish and Blacks then, Muslims today, Catholics tomorrow – it was so in the past, as you all well know. We’ve had priest holes- who will occupy them now?

    I’d better shut up, but I see us all sleepwalking to disaster. Does no-one learn from the past?

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  3. toadspittle says:

    .
    No, Pasto, nobody ever does learn from the past (See: Popper, The Poverty of Historicism).

    And when you say…“…but I will complain (to my cost) about another tide of antireligious feeling against Islam,” I suggest that it is not “antireligious feeling” that makes me and many others, how shall we say – dubious about Muslims, but the way they behave to other people.
    Whatever extraordinary things they choose to believe is entirely up to them, as with Christians, Hindus and any other lot.
    Just as long as they don’t try and force it down other peoples’ throats.
    But they do. Think of Rushdie, for one.

    (Although in this case, I must agree I do now begin to smell a faint whiff of rat. Maybe.)

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  4. Pastorious says:

    I fully agree with your comments about the ugly side of Islam. It stinks, but it’s not the whole story. And I’m also speaking about a bigger picture, though I feel I am wasting my time.

    Ordinary Muslims in Europe must groan when they see yet another hate story, as Catholics have in the past. Never never forget it.

    On a much smaller scale I have encountered anti Catholic bigotry and because it’s not reasoned, there’s little you can do. That’s why I’ll take stick here for what I say. I know full well what is thought of that approach. I don’t particularly like it, but I’ll take it. I won’t join the tide. Never.

    Every Catholic here, especially Irish Catholics, knows the daft things that are believed of them.

    But you are not saying that we should be just as ugly? I don’t think you are.

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  5. toadspittle says:


    Oops! The story has a new top, and a rather different spin.

    That ought to learn Toad to look before he hops…

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  6. Pastorious says:

    Thank you CP&S for not joining in a new Krystallnacht and also for thinking for yourselves. It’s an increasingly rare quality in this world of more info and more hysteria.

    To think for yourself means taking kicks (ouch) and contempt quite often, but we have no choice if we have any values but to stand our ground. And if we are eventually proved wrong, we accept that, because we acted honourably if mistakenly.

    All of us agree, from time to time, how rotten and manipulative the press is, then we forget – and then God help us.

    It will happen again, nothing surer, as Toad and his Popper reference show.

    Like

  7. Pastorious says:

    A footnote; I have had hell from friends when I described Islam as a mediaeval religion, blind to reason, locked into ‘authority’, and which severely punishes the body for the sins of the mind (hand chopping for theft, ie a life sentence) appalling treatment of women, fatwas and so on, ad nauseam. I got stick for that too; I was a bigot, they said.

    I never learn to shut up and go with the flow.

    Like

  8. kathleen says:

    Pastorious, I think you raise some very good points here, which could be summed up in the old saying, “Give a dog a name..” which blows the whole ‘blame’ thing out of proportion. So, yes, we should certainly be careful not to do that, believing whatever anti-islamic rumour is bandied about by the press, or groups that have an agenda. Thank you for mentioning this. At least here in our western countries we have laws that seek to give everyone the chance to defend themselves from such twisted, false accusations.

    However, it is not an exaggeration to say that Christians in many countries of the Middle East and Africa of a Muslim majority are seldom given the same consideration. They are mostly treated as second class citizens, victims with no voice against the cruel, unjust and unfounded accusations for blasphemy.

    I wonder what moderate Muslims who live in the West think of this injustice? It would be interesting to hear them speak out in anger against it; though I for one have never heard even a peep – have you?

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  9. toadspittle says:

    .
    We are all indebted to you, Kathleen, for fearlessly pointing out how extremely horribly many religions constantly treat one another, and always have done, apparently. And for carefully underling the assertion that, these days at least, Catholics are “less worse” than anybody else.
    A ringing endorsement, indeed!

    It all seems to me to be gravely at odds with the general notion of religion, of peace and love etc., but what do I know? (as Montaigne was fond of saying.)

    Possibly a perception that religion actually does more harm than good might explain the drop-off in numbers of worshippers in many quarters.
    But, again, what do I know?
    I’m just a nut.
    And then…“…or groups that have an agenda.” …Are you suggesting then, Kathleen, that Catholicism doesn’t have its own agenda? Not even to spread The Good Word?
    Surely not!

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  10. kathleen says:

    Yes, but you are a lovable ‘nut’ all the same! 😉

    Christianity is a religion of peace and love Toad. How could a sincere follower of Christ be anything else but an expounder of His Gospel of love of God and neighbour?
    That the evidence of past and present show some Christians fail in this endeavour, is no more than a sign of human frailty and weakness that we all have to fight against, but does not take away from our exalted mission to be ‘other Christs’ in the world. The truth is, Christianity has brought faaaaaar more good than bad to mankind. How could it be otherwise? Christ has redeemed us; He brought salvation to all who “take up their cross” and follow Him.

    In answer to your question about an “agenda” – it depends how you interpret that word. To evangelise with love, respecting man’s free will to accept or refuse this evangelisation, is hardly “having an agenda”; which would be more a case of spreading your ideas or beliefs by underhand ways, i.e. with trickery.

    Like

  11. annem040359 says:

    This does not surprise me. The clash of civilizations goes on.

    Like

  12. toadspittle says:

    .
    “In answer to your question about an “agenda” – it depends how you interpret that word.”
    Indeed it does, Kathleen! Agreement at last!!! As Toad has pointed out – so often he has practically bored himself to death, let alone what he has done to the rest of humanity – in the immoral words of the Blessed Humpty Dumpty, “Words mean exactly what I want them to mean – no more, no less.” So, as we can agree that we can never agree on what words actually mean, all discussion is clearly absurd and fruitless.

    For example, to Toad, the concept of an agenda, in no way suggests “trickery,” but what does Toad know?
    However, what he does know that there will be no comment from anyone else on CP&S, either confirming or denying this this piece of effrontery on his part
    There never is.
    The word, “agenda” if interpreted one way, will apply to the mission of the Catholic Church.
    If, as Kathleen does, you interpret it differently, then it won’t!
    There!
    Easy as that!

    And where does that leave us?
    That’s right!
    Xactly nowhere!

    (Nor is Toad all that loveable. Or so he must admit. Bit too brutal for that.)

    And, while he’s bloviating on, what about Anthony Kenny? And the Baltimore Catechism, Question No. 33? …Or even Question 1?)

    Like

  13. toadspittle says:

    .
    “Christianity is a religion of peace and love Toad. “

    Would you care to hazard a figure as to how many people have been killed in the name of Christianity, Peace and Love, in the last two millennia, Kathleen? To the nearest half a million will do just fine.
    You have made a splendid start with the horrors of “Reformation” England, today.
    How about the rest of Europe, the Americas, Asia and everyboy’s special fave, The Middle East, “The Holy Land”?

    Like

  14. kathleen says:

    Correct Toad…… instead of saying you are ‘lovable‘ (K, feeling tender towards you – don’t ask me why – said that in a moment of weakness), I would have better described you as: cynical, outrageous, exasperating, infuriating, cheekily funny, provocative, even a bit obnoxious (perhaps after one too many glasses of a good vino tinto?)….. but no, never a bore!

    OK, perhaps I should have said “a hidden agenda” (in above comment); that would have fitted the situation better. Try Humpty on this one! 🙂
    This idiom or expression means: Having something other than the obvious in mind. Doing things for reasons other than what is announced.” http://www.idiomsandexpressions.com/category/keywords/having-agenda

    Also, one other thing I should clarify about Christianity that I didn’t make very clear: it is always a good thing – never bad. The reason I used the word ‘bad’ was because Christians have done evil things. We aspire to holiness, but we are creatures tainted by Original Sin. Christianity – and of course we are talking about Catholicism and the Catholic Church, Bride of Christ – is the pearl of great price, and we have a duty to bring this message of salvation to all men. This was Jesus Christ’s last command to His Apostles before His Ascension into Heaven.

    Like

  15. toadspittle says:

    .
    You are very kind, Kathleen. As always.
    Reading your comments always reminds me of listerning to Real Madrid fans in the bar. When the opposing team commits fouls, it’s… “Filthy, swinish, bunch of bloodthirsty, lawless savages, with utter disregard for the rules of the game!”
    When Real fouls, (and they often do!) ..it’s …” Decent, manly, perfectly reasonable, legal, physical contact. If Barça don’t like it – let them **** off and play some soppy girls’ game!” ..,Which is why we love all Kathleen so much. Passion! (unhidden!)

    Like

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