Greenwood Junior School sent out a letter to parents saying the three-day festival of Eid al-Adha, which takes place between December 8 and 11, meant that Muslim children would be off school. That meant planning for the traditional nativity play were shelved because the school felt it would be too difficult to run both celebrations side by side.
The move has left parents furious. Janette Lynch, whose seven-year-old son Keanu attends the school, in Sneinton, Nottingham, said: "The head has a whole year to plan for Eid and so she should be able to plan for both religious festivals. I have never heard of this at a school. It is the first year my son has been there and a lot of the mums like me were really looking forward to seeing the children in the nativity."
See also the Daily Mail, 4 December 2008
Yes, it's another of those seasonal "Christmas banned because of Muslims" stories. However, according to a Press Association report, the performance has not in fact been cancelled but only postponed till January – and it's not a nativity play but a pantomine (Cinderella, since you ask). A spokeswoman for Nottingham City Council is quoted as saying that in December the school will be staging "a range of events, including a Christmas carol concert and Eid celebrations".
Predictably, the story has been seized on by the BNP. Under the headline "Nottingham school cancels Christmas to make way for Islam", the fascists declare that "such outrages will inevitably progress from the exception to the norm, if Britain fails to embrace the BNP and continues its present headlong plunge into the abyss".
The Nottingham Evening Post reports that Greenwood Junior School has received phone calls from BNP members accusing the school of responsibility for the "erosion of Christian values". In other words, we have here yet another example of the mainstream media's biased and inaccurate reporting giving a boost to the far right.
Inspector Andy Townsend, the local area commander, is quoted as saying: "There have been a lot of angry people phoning the school, some of whom are claiming to be from the BNP. Other agencies including the national press have contacted the school, including one journalist pretending to be a social worker. There's also been vans pulling up and people taking pictures. We are dealing with the potential for disorder. No actual criminal acts have been committed but we are increasing patrols in the area around the school to keep the peace."
Update: Needless to say, this distorted report has spread across the right-wing blogosphere. Here is a characteristic comment, by Phyllis Chesler: "Muslim fanatics are also demographically populating beachheads deep in the West where they are also demanding that their holidays be recognized in a more paramount way than Christian holidays are. Just yesterday, in England, a Nativity play was cancelled at a primary school because it interfered with the Muslim celebration of Eid."