Cancelled Christmas party revived by private donors
There will be a Christmas tree and a party with cookies, Father Christmas and all of the trimmings this year in Egedalsvænge, a housing estate in the town of Kokkedal north of Copenhagen, even though its residents’ association has voted not to pay for it.
Political leaders and private citizens all stepped up and offered to pay for all or part of the Christmas celebrations when they heard of the board’s decision.
Jonas Birger-Christensen, a small business owner from Hellerup, has offered both to pay 7,000 kroner for the Christmas party and 7,000 kroner for next year's Eid celebration.
"I just became a father,” he told Jyllands-Posten. “Children are the ones who get hurt when a good event gets cancelled, whether it's Halloween, Christmas or Eid.”
Birger-Christensen said he hoped his donation would discourage people from playing politics with the flap and remind the board that a majority should also consider the rights of the minority.
“There must be room for all,” he said. “That is what creates a dynamic and developing society.”
The decision not to have a Christmas tree or hold a Christmas party grabbed headlines after it was revealed that what was called “a Muslim majority” of the board of Egedalsvænge voted against paying the 5,000 to 7,000 kroner it would cost. The board had earlier approved 60,000 kroner to pay for a party celebrating the Muslim holiday Eid.
The board has not reversed its decision, so both the tree and the party will be paid for with outside funds.
Karin Leegaard Hansen, a 29-year-resident of Egedalsvænge, was elected as the chair of the residents' association in September.
"The vast majority of the residents support the Christmas party, maybe 99 percent, but a majority of the board still voted against it,” Hansen told Jyllands-Posten.
A number of national lawmakers immediately jumped into the fray, accusing those voting against the tree of “trying to kill Christmas”.
"This is an example of pressure being put on Danish culture and traditions,” said Martin Henriksen, integration spokesperson for the right-wing Dansk Folkeparti (DF). “Every year we hear more and more about schools and institutions that downplay Christmas to protect the rights of a Muslim minority.”
Board member Ismal Sahan said he was upset someone had spoken to the press about the decision, but defended the move.
"We made the decision together,” he told Ekstra Bladet tabloid. “This is a democracy.”
Sahan refused to answer questions about the board's make-up. He would also not say if he voted for or against the Christmas party, saying only that September's Eid party was “a great event”.