How political correctness harms immigrants.

Seems like yesterday, but it was 2006 when Judge Cohen from Ontario decreed that the Christmas tree must be removed from the courthouse because it represented a religion. I always thought that the tree was not just a symbol of faith, but a coming together of families to spend much deserved time together after a year of hard work. It represented to me good spirit, joy and giving. As a Muslim, these are not alien thoughts to my religion and are not certainly the prerogative of one faith! Many people believe that the origins of the decorated tree likely dates to pre-Christian pagan cultures in Europe.

Cut to 2011 and the announcement from Service Canada in Quebec that decorations should not be displayed in places that the public would see or have access to. So I guess fireworks on Canada Day and Flags are next?

Read the online comments and it would seem like Canadians feel all immigrants object to having the holidays called Christmas or even celebrating it!

Here’s a correction: NOT TRUE! I know many immigrant families across Canada and I know that the shopping at Christmas and New Year is not the only thing we like about this time of year. It is how our cities are magically transformed into a spectacle of lights and good cheer. We love how Canadians invite us to share this holiday with them.

I lived in Mumbai, India, Muscat, Oman, Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and now in Vancouver, Canada. I cannot remember a time growing up without a Christmas celebration. In fact in the last two residencies, both of which were Islamic countries, there were no restrictions on celebrating religious holidays, be they Holi and Diwali from India, Christmas or Easter or Eid. Yes, the official holidays were Eid and were celebrated with great gusto by all faiths.

The person at Service Canada responsible for this decision made the entire non-Christian population of Canada responsible for this act. And unfortunately fingers are being pointed at immigrants! We immigrants bring in traditions to this country and encourage our newly found friends to celebrate these religions along with us. In one fell swoop, we have now been made the “grinches” who stole Christmas cheer!

In its march towards embracing diversity, Canadians takes pleasure in joining immigrants in celebrating Chinese New Year, Baisakhi, Caribbean days and many more such festivals. So why can’t we join in on the Christmas celebrations that are so intrinsic to Canada’s history and culture?

Canada it seems struggles at times with its political correctness, sometimes it does trip and fall. And then it seems we take four steps back for every two steps forward.

My next step is to pull that tree out of the shed and inspect lights – yes, it is time for family and celebrations!

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