Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Santa-Phobia in Algeria

On December 24th, the Algerian newspaper El-Shourouq El-Yawmi published a horror stricken editorial on a subject of great concern. Courtesy of MEMRI, here are some excerpts:

"We couldn’t believe what our eyes saw as we roamed the streets of Tizi Ouzo. If it were not for this photo caught by our camera, we would have said we were lying, and you would have said we were lying as well - and rightfully so.

What could have possibly inspired such shock and outrage? The appearance of a certain jolly old infidel in a red suit:

"'Santa Claus' came down to the streets of Tizi Ouzo, without asking permission, and here he is… making the rounds gleefully in his carriage full of bells, attracting people who are weak in their faith and distributing 'presents' to them in the name of the Lord 'Jesus.' All this happens without anyone saying anything or raising any objection, from the Ministry of Religious Affairs to the last of those authorities who are zealous for Islam.

"Whoever walks through the streets of the Tizi Ouzo district these days will run up against the strange cultural turning away from Islamic principles, in that the city's streets show the distinctive signs of the Christian New Year holiday. This phenomenon is not limited to the Tizi Ouzo district, but [also] encompasses some of the country's major districts, and is expressed in what we see - namely, that the preparations for celebrating this occasion are comparable [in scope] to the preparations for [Islamic] religious or national celebrations, sometimes even outdoing them.

Needless to say, the editors of El-Shourouq El-Yawmi are not fans of St. Nick, and they want action taken to prevent his return in future:

"It appears that the fears… concerning the Christianization of the Kabylie region have in effect come true this time, and it has become clear that President Bouteflika's admonition to the region's population to uphold Islam and not to surrender to the lures of Christianization… stemmed from knowledge of what is going on there. 'Santa Claus' appearing there, overtly this time, is a sure sign of the swiftly descending danger that has come into [our] Algerian home. Will the relevant authorities - and first and foremost the Ministry of Religious Affairs - seize the initiative, or will [Algeria] be left to its own devices, in confronting the death arriving from the West?"

Much is made of "Islamophobia": the allegedly irrational fear of Islam and its spread. Yet, this newspaper's reaction to Santa Claus as a harbinger of "death arriving from the West" is just a small example of the intolerance towards Western values and belief systems that permeates much of the Muslim world.


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