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Lights, decorations, a big pine of northern origins, all of which are decorated, located in the atrium with the crib next to it, in a Mediterranean environment, to recall the birth of Jesus.  All around there is red tape, holly trees, snowflakes and many bright cardstock stars, for a festivity that does not deny anything to traditions of various origins, and which in spite of inter-cultural contaminations, respects the Christian and European one, without injuring other cultures.

Many Italian schools are preparing for Christmas, from kindergarten to high schools. Students exercise in singing Christmas carols in view of the customary concert that announces the “happy event” and continues also after school activities stop for the holidays. All this will not happen in the ”Garofalo” school in Rozzano. Its headmaster, Marco Parma, Movimento 5 stelle’s candidate mayor, has decided to ban it so as “not to hurt the sensitivity” of the children of other faiths. Here, integration is envisaged as renouncement to one’s identity. The Christmas concert has been canceled and the crucifixes have been removed. In the name of respect towards the other, we have no respect for ourselves, for our own history, our own cultural roots, the sensitivity and the creed of the greatest part of our citizens.

Thus, in Sassari, the council of teachers of a primary school led by the headmaster Patrizia Mercuri has decided to suspend Bishop’s traditional Christmas blessing so as not to offend non-Catholic children.  They have decided to take children to “visit” a parish, accompanied by their parents. “There are special and very fragile equilibriums. There is room for all the cultures here”, Mercuri says. Yet, in Jerusalem, three monotheistic religions live peacefully together, live together, pray together. It is the Holy City for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Nobody feels offended by someone else’s faith, no one is troubled.

Last Christmas, the little students of the ”Garofani” school sang “Jingle Bells”; this year, some parents had asked the headmaster to insert more religious songs, such as “Tu scendi dalle stelle” (You Come Down from the Stars) by “Adeste Fideles”. The headmaster’s answer was a blunt “no”, in the name of “the public school’s secularity”. The musical performance has been put off till 21 January and the programme includes nursery rhymes by Gianni Rodari and Sergio Endrigo’s songs”. In the name of secularism, instead of Christmas,  they are going to celebrate the “Winter Feast”. For the Romans, it was a pagan festival. Secularism, here, means anti – Christianity.  A slap in the face of Italian identity and tradition.

According to Parma, this is the best way to “show respect for diversity”. His concern was that some parent of non-Christian religion might have felt “embarrassed” if their children were to partake in a celebration with Christian religious songs. Thus, he shows how enthusiasts of multiculturalism have little knowledge of the contents of the creeds whose guardians they claim to be. Otherwise, they would have known that Muslims honor Jesus as the greatest prophet before Muhammad and that for Jews, Christian festivities represent, at worst, folcklore, as Santa Claus for Christians. Many students and parents, in fact, have not approved of this decision. They spoke up also on Social networks. Matteo Salvini, who has also donated a nativity scene to the school, wrote on Facebook:  “I think that the headmaster and the teachers that cancel Christmas, a celebration of joy and peace, should change profession!”

Also the Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, posted on Twitter: “Giving up on Christmas is not how dialog can be encouraged”. Edoardo Patriarca, member of the Democratic Party, has commented: “It is not by giving up on our identity that we will be able to protect minorities”. The headmaster Parma does not step back and closes the door of the school in Jesus’ face. They should find a cave then, where to take children who are not Muslim, not Jewish, not pagans, but Christians.

If this headmaster wants to eradicate every “dangerous” Christian ”provocation” from the study programs, it is going to be a tough task for him: history, literature, art, and music exude Christian religion. Italian language itself was born officially with San Francesco d’Assisi. How come they have not banned Dante’s “Divine Comedy” yet? Erasing our culture, together with our religious traditions, so as not to make anyone feel “offended” is an attack, not only a provocation, on students of every religion, on knowledge, and peace.

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