If you want to know what a serious war on Christmas looks like—one that doesn’t involve Starbucks cups or generic “winter pageants”— take a gander at what is happening in parts of the Muslim world:
It might have been an occasion for collectors of omens to rejoice: For the first time in nearly five centuries, in 2015 the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday coincided with Jesus’ birthday. A cause for hope? Too little, it turns out. Throughout the Muslim world, a harsh campaign was conducted against people who celebrate Christmas. In Algeria, Islamists worked the streets under the regime’s tolerant eye, distributing leaflets denouncing the day as unholy, discouraging customers in pastry shops from buying Yule logs and cakes, and sermonizing in mosques. In Brunei and Somalia, celebrating Christmas could lead to imprisonment. The Islamists’ argument came down to one essential point: To celebrate Christmas or New Year’s was to imitate the “Kuffar,” or atheists, which is to say, basically, Westerners. At all cost the man in the white beard had to be kept away from the men with black beards. Pointing out that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday and that Jesus is a recognized prophet in the genealogy of the Quran would have served no purpose. The Islamists’ mental cartography is binary: “Dar el-Islam, Dar el-Koffr” — Land of Islam versus Land of Impiety. They want to de-Westernize the Arab world.