Christmas banned in Oxford by council-owned charity
By Richard Savill
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 03/11/2008
Oxford city council confirmed the events in the city would be renamed 'Winter Light Festival' to make them more inclusive, provoking outrage among shoppers in the city who called for a return to tradition.
The idea has come from the charity Oxford Inspires, the cultural development agency for the county, which runs the celebrations.
Sabir Hussain Mirza, chairman of the Muslim Council of Oxford, said: "I am really upset about this. Christians, Muslims and other religions all look forward to Christmas."
Fr Brian Van-Dungey, a priest in Garsington, Oxon, said: "I am a Christian and pleased to see my Muslim brothers joining in the condemnation of this stupid and dangerous idea; this sort of thinking creates racial problems and should be stopped in its tracks."
Rabbi Eli Bracknell, who teaches at the Jewish Educational Centre in the city, said: "It is important to maintain a traditional British Christmas. Anything that waters down traditional culture and Christianity in the UK is not positive for the British identity."
Oxford Inspires spokesman Tei Williams said: "In Oxfordshire we have Winter Light which is a whole festival spanning two months. Within that festival will be Christmas Carol services."
Liz Gresham of Oxford Inspires added: "We changed the name to be more inclusive." Ed Turner, deputy leader of the council, said the renaming of the festival was "unfortunate and sends out a problematic message."
He added: "It is the charity's festival. Among councillors there is certainly no desire to downgrade the importance or the prominence given to Christmas.
"There is going to be a Christmas tree and even if the lights are called something else to me they will be Christmas lights." http://www.telegraph.co.uk/global/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/global/2008/11/03/noindex/ban.xml&source=EMC-exp_03112008