Christmas stories

Three stories related to the upcoming Christmas holiday.

1. Muslims not invited to party (VL, Norwegian)

Aslam Ahsan, who for the past 19 years organized a Christmas party for singles in the Lørenskog suburb of Oslo, isn't willing to invite Muslims to his parties.  The parties are meant for lonely people who want to celebrate Christmas, he says, particularly the older people.  

Ahsan got requests from Muslims who wanted to come to the party, but this week was the first time that he'd learned that people weren't happy about it.  When a man who introduced himself as Ali called, Ahsan told him that Muslims aren't invited.  He later got an SMS threat from "Ali, who is Christian" saying that he'll report Ahslan for discrimination, though the message did mention twice that he's a Muslim.

Ahsan says he has two criteria: that the people coming will belong to the Christian culture and that they will be singles.

Ahsan does say that Muslims are welcome to come and work in helping set up the party.  The party includes Christmas food, reading from the Christmas service, singing and going round the Christmas tree.  Volunteers drive the guests home later.

The Salvation Army, meanwhile, has parties which are open for everybody and parties for certain groups, such as drug addicts.  However, they say that nobody is discriminated by religion.

2. Salvation Army aiding Muslims before Christmas (DR, Danish)

The Salvation Army in Denmark is helping poor families prepare for the holiday, but increasingly they are getting requests from Muslims.  This year there are 25-30% more Muslims than in the previous year, particularly women.

Iraqi Nisrin Ali Mohammad says that religion doesn't play a role, she comes to the Salvation Army for friends and human warmth.  Women from all possible countries sit and talk together.

Some people are angry about the Salvation Army helping Muslims, and donors are dropping off.  But Lars Lydholm, spokesperson for the Salvation Army, says it's an issue of need, not of faith.  Christmas is about joy and giving joy to others.  The Salvation Army helps everybody, regardless of religion.  He says they don't use Christmas aid to indoctrinate people and believes that the Christian message also shows itself by wanting to help people.

The Salvation Army helps 6,000 families with special Christmas aid every year.

3. Moroccan women organizing Christmas party (AD, Dutch)

A group of Moroccan women from Amsterdam East organized a Christmas party this Monday.  The Moroccan Women of Amsterdam organization (OMVA) invited all neighbors to come.  "On this day in the darker month of December we want to come together with our neighbors," the women wrote.  The party included reading the Christmas story, in Arabic as well as in Dutch, food and drinks.

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