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20th Jan 2022

EU Parliament debates the word 'Christmas'

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Debates over Christian identity and the use of words like Christmas preoccupied the European Parliament plenary for over an hour on Wednesday (15 December).

The Strasbourg debate followed scrapped internal guidelines on how to best communicate inclusivity by EU equality commissioner, Helena Dalli.

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"This is a bogus debate," said Spanish centre-left MEP Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar.

"This [the guidelines] isn't even an official document. It's not a legitimate file. It's not even an official communication from the Commission," he pointed out.

Another MEP noted that the debate had displaced another one on poverty, energy and inflation.

"We're facing considerable challenges and you decide to make a mountain out of a molehill," said Swedish Green MEP, Alice Kuhnke.

"You should be talking about the climate crisis, about how we're to save our planet," she said, highlighting other issues like women rights, inequality and poverty.

"Your religions are not at risk and your festive festivities will not be cancelled," said Spanish left MEP, Sira Rego.

Weber affirms his faith

But Manfred Weber, the leader of the centre-right EPP group, had demanded the identity debate take place anyway.

He claimed topics like Christmas could no longer be discussed openly, while at the same time professing his own Catholic beliefs.

"I believe that God gives us guidance and guides us through life and that after death, there is life after death and something else," he said.

He pointed to churches in European cities, as well as culinary traditions, dance and music as part of its Christian roots.

Margaritis Schinas, the vice-president of the European Commission, also took the floor.

He said Dalli's guidelines had been withdrawn.

"It did not serve its intended purpose. Nor did it meet all commissioned quality standards," he said.

"Europe has to be a place where the respect of others flourishes, where tolerance reigns supreme," he said.

Dacian Cioloș, the former leader of the liberal Renew Europe group, described Christianity as part of a common cultural heritage.

"I do not need the commission to tell me what I can say like, Merry Christmas or what I should say around Christmas," he said.

The far-right railed against what they described as a "progressive counter-cultural regime," likened the commission to totalitarianism in the past, and lashed out at Islam.

Jorge Buxade Villalba, a Vox-party Spanish MEP, appeared to also make anti-Semitic remarks, claiming that Jesus had been "persecuted by terrorists as well."

"The day has now arrived, it is the end of Christmas. We're gonna have to save it," said François-Xavier Bellamy, a centre-right French MEP.

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