47% of students at Nørremark school in Vejle are not ethnic Danish, but all students are expected to go to a Christmas ceremony in the local church - also Muslims. The children will sing psalms, hear the Christmas story from the Bible and will say the Lord's prayer with a priest.
Mourad Dalibey is a spokesperson for a group of parents who want the Christmas church service to be optional for kids who see it as against their faith. His son, Hakim, goes to the school and will have to take part in the ceremony. Hakim's mother is Danish and he will celebrate Christmas with his grandparents, but he is also a Muslim and thinks it's wrong that he has to go to church.
Mouared Dalibey, a member of the Vejle city council for the Social Democrats, says it's completely fine that the school has a tradition to have the Christmas ceremony in a church, but it should be voluntary for the kids if they take part in it or not. He says the school's administration does not respect that Denmark has freedom of religion when all the children have to go to church and sing Christian psalms.
Henrik Berggreen Jessen of Nørremark school rejects the criticism and says that they're a traditional Danish school which celebrates Christmas, Easter and Whit Sunday. They therefore have a traditional ceremony with a Christmas concert. He adds that the law requires them to get the children familiar with Danish culture and history and that they do so by having a Christmas ceremony in the church. If the parents are against it, they should show him which law he's not abiding by.
He denies that children are forced to do anything, saying that whoever wants to sing will do so, and that it's all about enjoying the day.
He also says that the school doesn't have the resources either in accommodations or in teachers, to enable the students to choose to stay in the school during the ceremony. The school doesn't have room to accommodate all 500 students, and since the teachers will be present at the Christmas ceremony, there is no possibility to let children stay at the school.Sources: Politiken (Danish), Jyllands-Posten (Danish)