Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Sunday 25 July |
The Feast of Saint James the Great
home iconNews
line break icon

Social Media Posts Celebrate Christmas in Parts of the World Where It’s Banned


A Palestinian Greek Orthodox Christian girl dressed in Santa Claus stands outside the Saint Porfirios church in Gaza City on December 22, 2013, as preparations for Christmas celebrations get underway. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED / AFP / MOHAMMED ABED

John Burger - published on 12/23/15 - updated on 06/07/17

Muslim majority Brunei restricts public celebrations, warning of danger to Islamic faith

A social media campaign is giving Christians around the world a chance to celebrate Christmas together, even if they are restricted from doing so in public.

From Saudi Arabia to Brunei, Christians feeling the heat from local regimes are feeling free to post photos of their Christmas trees and Nativity scenes on Facebook and Twitter.

All part of the #MyTreedom campaign, posts tell stories of Yuletide trees being smuggled into Saudi Arabia, Christmas pageants in Pakistan and hopes that Christians might continue to find safe havens as the Islamic State group threatens cities like Karbala and Baghdad.

“It’s so heartwarming to see the courage and resilience they can show in the face of persecution,” Lisa Daftari, a foreign affairs journalist from Los Angeles who started the Facebook page in early December, told the Daily Mail.  It now has more than 24,000 likes. “The goal is to raise awareness about the increased threat of global Christian persecution that is often missing from political headlines these days.”

The kingdom of Brunei, which is about 65 precent Muslim, is the latest to put restrictions on celebrations of the birth of Christ. The tiny nation, on the island of Borneo, has banned public festivities, warning that putting up decorations or singing carols could threaten the country’s Muslim faith, the Telegraph reported.

The move was initiated last year, after authorities were alarmed by some people dressing up like Santa Claus. Brunei had just implemented Sharia law the previous year.

According to Agence France-Presse last year, a government statement warned that non-Islamic rituals or festivities could be seen as “propagations of religions other than Islam.”

It noted in particular: “For example, in conjunction with Christmas celebrations, Muslim children, teenagers and adults can be seen wearing hats or clothes that resemble Santa Claus.”

“Believers of other religions that live under the rule of an Islamic country — according to Islam — may practice their religion or celebrate their religious festivities among their community, with the condition that the celebrations are not disclosed or displayed publicly to Muslims,” the statement said. “Muslims should be careful not to follow celebrations such as these that are not in any way related to Islam … and could unknowingly damage the faith of Muslims.”

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Philip Kosloski
This morning prayer is easy to memorize
Cerith Gardiner
8 Powerful quotes from Nightbirde that will fill you with hope
Daniel Esparza
5 Curious things you might not know about Catholicism
Philip Kosloski
Why is Latin the official language of the Church, instead of Aram...
Daniel Esparza
3 Legendary pilgrimages off the beaten path
Daniel Esparza
Who are the cherubim in the Bible?
Zelda Caldwell
Did Jesus wear “tefillin” as some observant Jews do t...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.