Italian Veterans Group Ordered to Remove Christmas Tree to Avoid 'Offending' Muslims

Christmas tree with ornament of a small Christmas tree with a red circle and cross mark through it.

Last week, a veterans group in the Italian city of Bolzano gave an "athlete of the year" award to Elena Pirrone, world champion of junior cycling. The group set up a Christmas tree for the event. The next morning, the organization's president was woken up by a phone call. He was told to remove the Christmas tree, so as to avoid offending Muslims.

"On Friday morning, the president of the Atesini veterans, Alberto Ferrini, was woken up by a phone call, asking him to remove that tree, because at midday a Muslim association would meet in the hall and that decoration could have offended the sensibility of those present," local paper Alto Adige reported.

"This bureaucratic rigor, by which the city demanded to have the tree removed or otherwise risk annoying someone, demonstrates a barbarization of the general cultural climate," Alessandro Urzì, provincial councilor for South Tyrol, a representative of Bolzano, told il Giornale.

The hall of Europe in Via del Ronco hosted the veterans group on Thursday evening and the Muslim group on Friday. The veterans group had set up thirty green cards tied together to form a Christmas tree. The city asked Ferrini to remove this decoration to cater to the Muslims.

"The official motivation," the veterans group explained, "says that the room should be left as it is found, and indeed that is how it should be."

"But the [order that the] cardboard Christmas tree [be] removed in a hurry only makes us smile."

Many Muslims do actually celebrate Christmas, as Jesus Christ is considered a prophet in Islam. Muslims believe Jesus' followers twisted the Bible accounts and that Jesus really advocated Islam, as opposed to Christianity. Reports have not indicated whether or not the Muslim group actually would have considered the Christmas tree design offensive.

Then again, the tree itself does historically represent the Trinity, the belief that God is one Being in three Persons. Muslims emphatically deny this teaching, and the Quran explicitly states that Allah is One and has no Son.

This small event comes during a turbulent Advent season, with various Christmas celebrations stalled or cancelled due to political pressures and terror concerns.

Last week, the Muslim mayor of Nazareth, the Arab city in Israel where Jesus Christ grew up according to the gospels, announced that he would cancel all public celebrations of Christmas after President Donald Trump declared that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He claimed Trump had killed the spirit of Christmas. He later reversed the decision, as Nazareth relies on tourism -- especially during the Christmas season.

Bethlehem, the Palestinian town in which Jesus was born, joined another Palestinian city in shutting down Christmas lights following Trump's announcement.

Meanwhile, authorities said the New York City pipe bomb terrorist, Akayed Ullah, targeted the site where he detonated his explosive device because it was near a Christmas poster. He also said he was inspired by ISIS attacks on Christmas markets in Europe. Ullah failed to kill anyone — even himself — but he was inspired by the Islamic State (ISIS).

Another ISIS-inspired terrorist launched a truck attack at a Berlin Christmas market last year. Tunisian ISIS terrorist Anis Amri murdered 12 people at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market.

Last month, German police arrested six Syrian nationals suspected of having fought with ISIS — and allegedly connected with a terror plot against another Christmas market in Germany. They were later released. Truck attacks have led to the erection of barricades and security in various cities across Europe.

Earlier this month, the French city of Lyon cancelled its world-famous Christmas market after security costs skyrocketed to € 20,000 — a price the city could not afford.