Migrants

Disinformation: The Christmas tree in Brussels in 2017 was not put up to prevent irritation of non-Christian worshippers

12 September, 2017

Badri Nachkebia, director of the media holding "Akhali Saqartvelo" (New Georgia), in an interview with ‘Kviris Palitra’ while commenting on the terrorist attack in Barcelona asserted that states with liberal policies are struggling to fight terrorism because they do not have proper immigration protocols and some religious groups are given too many rights. According to him, a glaring example of this is the fact that in 2017, the Christmas tree in Brussels was not erected, as a symbol of a Christian holiday, to prevent aggravating other religious confessions.

Badri Nachkebia, head of "Akhali Saqartvelo" (New Georgia): "Liberal conditions are when some religious groups are granted too many rights, when countries do not have the right immigration policy ... This is demographic-religious imbalance. A clear precedent of this fact is that in 2017 there was no Christmas tree in the center of Brussels - a trait of a Christian holiday, in order not to disturb other concessions.

Kviris Palitra, 21-27 August

This statement is untruthful, since in the framework of Christmas celebration events 2017 held in the center of Brussels, a live Christmas tree from Slovakia was pitched. A metal construction, instead of a live tree, was installed on the central square not in 2017 but in 2012, as a symbol for a modern Brussels and as it was clearly declared by the city hall, there was no connection with the feelings of non-Christian religious denominations.

Fact N1: On November 17, 2016, in the center of Brussels, a 22-meter live fir tree from Slovakia was staged in the framework of traditional Christmas celebrations.

Every year, in the center of Brussels, the capital of Belgium, to celebrate the arrival of Christmas and beginnig of a New Year, special events -  Winter Wonders  are organized. In 2017, as per tradition for Christmas and New Year's Eve, a christmas market was opened and the Christams tree was raised.

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A live fir tree is traditionally brought from the woods of Ardennes and placed in the Grand Place in the center of the city. However, in 2017, the Slovakian government sent a 22-meter Christmas tree as a diplomatic  gift, to commemorate the ending of its 6-month presidency of the Council of Europe.

Source: AP/TASR

Fact N2: A metallic structure as an artificial Christmas tree,to symbolize the modernty of the city, was put on show in Brussels not in 2017 but for the 2012 celebrations. The matter has nothing to do with the European immigration crisis, which  began 3 years after the event in 2015.

In 2012, instead of the traditional living tree on Grand Place, a 25 meter metal construction was constructed, after which a wave of displeasure was voiced by a part of the Belgian press and public. According to them, the government was trying to stop the display of a traditional Christmas tree, because it did not want to irritate people of non-Christian faith.  According to the BBC, the Brussels City Hall explained that the construction of a metal christmas tree was part of 5 installations that were installed on Grand Place in 2012 to enable visitors to have a look at the architecture and to enjoy the city panorama. Besides, an additional live Christmas tree which was smaller in size was put on the main city square. Philip Klos, advisor of the Brussels City Hall Administration in tourism affairs, asserted that a Christmas tree is not a religious symbol and the goal of placing a metal structure was to demonstrate the "avant-garde nature" of Brussels, and to modernize the Christmas market and Brussels in itself.

The Chairman of the ‘Executive of the Muslims of Belgium’, Semestine Ugurul, said that the Muslim community lives in a country with a strong Christian culture and is not subject to any kind of religious insult when it comes to point of putting up the Christmas tree.

Identical Disinformation

As stated by  EU Disinfo, in 2016 Swedish and Russian media spread disinformation about the banning of Christmas lights in Sweden for the sake of tolerance towards the muslim community.

In 2016, a number of right-wing extremist and anti-muslim web sites have  spread disinformation that Sweden has banned Christmas lights because it did not want to offend Muslim migrants. Similar information was also  written on Russian-language websites with identical worldviews.

In reality, the Swedish department of tranportation banned the lighting of all domains under its ownership because of the laws governing the energy sector in Sweden, this action did not  have any religious connotation.


Prepared by Dali Kurdadze