Sunday, December 19, 2004


For the first time ever in the Netherlands a schoolteacher has been shot by a student. But everyone is saying that nothing can be done about it. I wonder why? I think the answer is to be found somewhere in the paragraph below:

"Despite the fact that many groups have said the shooting could not have been prevented, difficult questions will still be asked about the matter, particularly in light of the fact that the suspected killer was a known trouble maker. Facing the prospect of being suspended from school due to misconduct, suspect Murat D. allegedly walked into the canteen and placed a pistol against deputy headmaster Van Wieren's temple and pulled the trigger. Murat was reportedly facing suspension from class after throwing seats. He also allegedly threatened Van Wieren, who was involved in the incident, that he would come to regret the decision, newspaper De Telegraaf reported. Students also said that fourth-year student Murat is of Turkish ancestry. The shooting is thus likely to spark renewed concerns about ethnic crime".

More here


In my nearest city, Treviso, one school has replaced its Nativity play with Little Red Riding Hood, with the teachers stating that they did not wish to offend their Muslim pupils. In the province of Vicenza, an annual contest for the best Nativity scene in schools has been scrapped.

A modern-day Inquisition has begun, with teachers who have changed the Christmas message being blacklisted. Antonio Fogazzaro, a teacher from Como-Rebbio near Milan, has been vilified for deciding to replace 'Jesus' with the word 'virtue' in the carols for his elementary school's Christmas play. 'As the city administration, we condemn this teacher's behaviour, and we will decide on what measure to take', threatened the mayor of Como, Stefano Bruni. The president of the Treviso province Luca Zaia has proposed that a record should be taken of teachers who meddle with Christmas Nativity plays. He has also asked the education minister to make classical Nativity plays obligatory.

The controversy has provoked further debates about the integration of non-Europeans, especially Muslims. Italy has a population of 57million, with one million officially registered Muslims, but the actual number of Muslims is much higher and growing. Muslims are much less integrated into Italian society than in countries such as Britain, France and Holland where many generations of immigrants have settled. Most immigrants in Italy are still first generation, with the second generation only just emerging.

But the debate isn't about the presence of Muslims or other non-Europeans per se. Controversy has raged in schools where there are no Muslim pupils (such as my son's school). The key discussion is whether to try and defend absolute values in our relativist times or to opt for embracing a diversity of values. The following comments from the Mayor of Como about the replacement of the word 'Jesus' in a Nativity play express this dilemma:

'This decision is false social integration. Each one must reciprocally respect the cultures and religions of others, but cannot impose those children to not express their religious faith to respect others.. We cannot pretend to integrate different cultures with these methods. Each must defend his culture without arrogance but without fears of one's cultural identity, trying to transmit respect for other identities. Only with a confrontation of ideas, cultures, traditions, and religions can one create real social integration.' While these comments suggest a defence of religion and culture, it is noticeable that there is no assertion that Christianity is the one true religion. Instead, it is seen as merely one of many - the emphasis is on respecting others while defending one's own culture, religion and identity.

The Vatican is also stressing the value of mutual respect. On 8 December, Cardinal Camillo Ruini of Rome called for the defence of and respect for the traditional Nativity on national television. Bishop Agostino Marchetto, head of the Vatican's department for migrants, emphasised the acceptance of others. 'It is a perfect example of how not to respect the presence of different people, in this case our Muslim brothers, by annihilating our own identity', said Bishop Marchetto. 'We have to accept others but others have to accept our identity', he added....

But Catholicism is not the only religion to have given ground to relativism over the debate about Christmas. Hamed Shaari, head of a major Islamic cultural institute in Milan, stated that it is 'senseless' to change the words of a Christmas song that has 2000 years of tradition behind it. 'It's great that people are aware of our feelings but traditions should be respected. This way, we can respect ours as well', he added.

More here

The Pope weighs in on anti-Christian bigotry

The Pope urged Christians to embrace the true meaning of Christmas yesterday, amid a row in Italy over traditional celebrations.... At the weekend the Pope weighed in over whether Italian state schools were right to cancel Nativity plays and cribs because of the alleged sensitivities of immigrant Muslim children. The Pope said on Sunday that Christmas traditions remain "an important element of our culture and faith". The Nativity scene was "a familiar and expressive representation of Christmas".

One school at Como has replaced the word "Jesus" with "virtue", in a carol, and another at Treviso is to stage Little Red Riding Hood this year instead of a Nativity play, arguing that the fairytale also represents "the struggle of good against evil". Schools from Cagliari to Modena have decided not to display cribs.

"Exaggerated attacks on Christmas traditions reflect a much wider attitude," said Cardinal Camillo Ruini, a papal aide. Vatican officials are campaigning to have "Christianophobia" recognised by the United Nations as an evil equal to hatred of Jews and of Muslims. Vatican officials argue that Christianity is under threat not only from militant Islam and New Age sects but also from the secularism of increasingly vocal and influential "anti- religious forces".

The Vatican was dismayed over the failure of the European Union to refer to Europe's Christian heritage in its new constitution, as well as the rejection by the European Parliament of Rocco Buttiglione as Italy's EU commissioner because of his traditionalist Catholic views on homosexuality and the family. The Vatican hopes the United Nations will this month condemn "Christianophobia" in the same way as anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican Foreign Minister, coined the term - or at least gave it currency - by telling a recent conference in Rome on religious freedom that "the war against terrorism, although necessary, had as one of its side- effects the spread of Christianophobia in vast areas of the globe".

However, even Italian Muslim leaders have criticised an "excess of zeal" by school authorities, and Bishop Agostino Marchetto, head of the Vatican department for migrants, said he suspected "Muslim sensitivities" were being used as a pretext by secular leftwingers to attack Catholic culture. "The real enemy is secularisation," he said.....

More here

No comments: