As Christians around the world celebrate Christmas, Muslim activists in Turkey are lashing out at a most beloved symbol of the season: Santa Claus.
Hurriyet Daily News reported on Christmas Eve that a Muslim youth group and a neighborhood association launched “anti-Santa campaigns” in Turkey.
The Anatolia Youth Association’s Istanbul University branch released an illustration of a bearded Muslim punching St. Nick in the face. The group said it plans to make a public statement against Christmas on Dec. 26, according to the Turkish news site.
The illustration could be seen on the Turkish website, Kemalist Gazete:
According to several accounts, the banner read: “New Year and Christmas celebrations NO!”
The youth group exhorted Muslims to refrain from the temptation of celebrating Christmas, saying in a statement, “Muslim, return to yourself!” Hurriyet reported.
“Christmas is a Christianity practice,” the group added.
Christmas is not the only problem for these activists. They also slammed Muslims who celebrate New Year’s, saying that celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Day is “wrong” and is “a blow dealt to Muslimism.”
The Examiner characterized the picture as an example of the “war on Christmas” and reported that a similar illustration of Santa being punched was also seen in the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia. It posted this image of that poster:
The poster has been “circulated as we speak by Muslim Albanians within this predominately Christian region with a population of mixed ethnicities (Slavs, Gypsies, Bulgarians, Albanians),” the Examiner reported.
It translated the slogan on the poster as, “Whomever practices the way of believing of infidels does not belong to my people. Do not celebrate, be afraid from Allah.”
Separately, this week the mukhtar, or leader, of the Istanbul neighborhood of Sirinevler hung an anti-Santa Claus banner, Hurriyet reported.
“As in recent years, Santa Claus will not be coming to Sirinevler since he is nothing to do with our traditions and our culture,” Mukhtar Galip Karayiğit said in the statement.
“[Turk legend character] Dede Korkut will come to our houses again, and will teach our children that they did not come into this world for pleasure, that they came to distribute justice,” he added according to the Turkish news site.
The website On Islam provides this information on the Muslim view of Jesus and Christmas:
Muslims believe in Jesus as one of the great Prophets of God and that he is the son of Mary but not the Son of God. He was conceived and born miraculously. In the Noble Qur’an, Jesus is called "Isa". He is also known as Al-Masih (the Christ) and Ibn Maryam (Son of Mary).
“Muslim scholars assert that Muslims have their own identity and in order to keep this identity they must not celebrate Christmas or holidays of non-Muslims,” On Islam wrote. “By participation in Christmas, they say, it is possible that slowly one may lose his or her consciousness of this basic point of difference between Islam and Christianity.”