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An elementary school in the city of Skien, Norway, has announced its Christmas festivities this year will include not only the usual reading of verses from the Bible by students but also two verses from the Koran.
All of the verses in question are about Jesus, which Islam considers a prophet and not the Son of God.
Hanne Tolg, the blogger who broke the story, says some changes to the school's traditional holiday program was inevitable. Forty percent of the students speak Norwegian as a second language if they speak it at all.
Still, she added, the whole thing was "pretty bizarre," since Christmas is not an Islamic holy day, and thanks to the misguided innovations, a whole generation of Norwegian children will grow up thinking "that Allah and the Koran have something to do with Christmas."
Ignored by Norway's mainstream media, the story was posted on an alternative news and commentary website and quickly became the most-shared news story across the country.
Even though many Norwegians do not regularly attend church, the country still celebrates its 1,000-year-old Christian heritage. At Christmastime, the streets are decorated with lights and wreaths. Every home has a Christmas tree, and you can't turn on the radio without listening to Christmas songs.
However, the school's story did not end. The country's biggest newspaper, VG, fact-checked Tolg's story and revealed it was true. The paper followed up with a story of its own.
When interviewed by the newspaper, the school's spokesperson said the reason for including the Koran verses was "to create respect and understanding between different religions."
But critics say the paper failed to ask how the two Koran verses in a Christmas show would serve to increase any child's awareness of the extensive theological differences between Christianity and Islam.
Tolg herself noted that inserting Koran verses into a Christmas event does nothing but cause misunderstanding.
In a commentary for the Gatestone Institute, Bruce Bower warned, "the school's Christmas plans provide yet another example of dhimmitude: craven European submission to Islam."
"This year, there might be a couple of Koran verses in a Christmas show," he explained. "Next year, a yuletide event at which both religions are celebrated on an even footing; and not too many years after that, perhaps, a children's celebration at which there is no cross and no Christmas tree, only prayer rugs, benedictions in Arabic and hijabs for the girls."
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