As we approach December, both devout and cultural Christians are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus. But as Christmas lights and Christmas trees start to fill the cities, malls and suburbs of Western countries, an increasingly large population of western Muslims feels marginalized, triggered and left out.
To many Muslims, the idea of celebrating Christmas on a day that technically isn’t Jesus’ actual birthday is an abomination and deeply offensive, and many find the consumerism surrounding this supposedly religious holiday vulgar and ugly. And while the Crusades may have happened thousands of years ago, one cannot underestimate the multi-generational trauma that has been inflicted on the Muslim population, and the deep emotional distress that overt signs of Christianity can trigger in them. Western Muslims not only have to put up with symbols of this offensive holiday wherever they look, but they also have to deal with the horror of strangers greeting them with “Merry Christmas” in public places.
Furthermore, Christmas reinforces the idea that Western countries are somehow inherently Christian. And although this may have been true over a century ago, a large and growing segment of the Western population is Muslim. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world and studies estimate that within a couple of decades or less, many European countries will be majority Muslim. Consequently, social scholars are urging Western countries to adopt more inclusive cultures and policies that make Muslims feel comfortable and at-home.
This is the 21st century, and Western countries need to start becoming more inclusive of other faiths, cultures and ethnicities. Unlike the rest of the world, the West is founded on multiculturalism and inclusion, and belongs to everybody, not just those who have inhabited it the longest. It’s time to start celebrating holidays that represent Christian privilege privately, rather than publicly. “Merry Christmas” should only be said quietly to friends and family members, and Christmas trees and lights should be hidden from public view inside peoples’ homes. It’s time to make the West truly inclusive, and create a society based on respect, fairness, love and understanding.