Islamists pose with Santa before his circumcision.
A Turkish Muslim group protests and hold signs reading ‘Christmas is incompatible with Islam’ during a demonstration in Istanbul on December 26. (CNN)
For the first time we have witnessed protests against New Year celebrations in the streets. Before, some Islamist media would denounce the celebrations as non-Turkish and un-Islamic, but I do not remember people protesting in the streets.
Everything began when posters depicting a devout-looking Muslim man punching Santa Claus were hung up in different parts of İstanbul. “No to New Year’s and Christmas celebrations” was written on the posters. The campaign was conducted by the Anatolian Youth Association, a youth branch of the Islamist Felicity Party (SP).
The Santa-punching posters were followed by a Dec. 26 demonstration at İstanbul’s Beyazıt Square, which raised further alarm. Members of the same association performed a “circumcision” on an inflatable Santa Claus and then stabbed the doll, while shouting chants against New Year and Christmas celebrations.
Interviews with Turkish Christians, published after the incident in the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, illustrate the serious worries sparked by the demonstrations.
Bishop Sahag Mashalyan, for instance, voiced fears that the stabbing of dolls could turn into real attacks. “A handful of Christians are left in this country, and such incidents naturally cause fear. The demonstrations are worrisome. The people who stage them today may attack a person clad in a Santa Claus costume tomorrow. It’s like a rehearsal,” he said. “Many people dress in Santa Claus costumes at shopping malls and amusement centers. Some deranged types or fanatics may attack them. The savage murders of missionaries took place in the wake of similar hate campaigns.”
The group’s poster pictured Santa getting punched in the face. (Bizpac Review)