My Muslim daughter is suspected of being Christian because she likes Christmas

imagesIt was in America where Reza Aslan – who will be discussing his book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth at Writers at York on Wednesday – really reached the public consciousness.

YouTube will preserve forever the total incomprehension of Fox News presenter Lauren Green as to why Aslan, an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions, who also happens to be an Iranian-American Muslim, would have any possible interest in Christianity.

Thousands of miles away in Bradford, the narrow-minded, macro world view embodied by Fox struck me immediately, as I had already seen it being enacted at a micro level in the playground of my daughter’s school in Bradford.

For the last few years since joining the school, where the children are in main from a Pakistani Muslim background, my daughter has on a number of occasions either been told that she’s not a Muslim, or been asked if she is half Christian.

The comments and questions stem from her love of singing Christmas carols. The confusion for some of her classmates has obviously arisen from the fact that although she looks like them, her penchant for Christmas carols and enthusiastic handing out of Christmas presents mean that in some ways she doesn’t behave like them. The obvious explanation that has occurred to these children is that either she is not a Muslim full stop, or that she must have one parent who is Christian – hence the enthusiasm for Christmas. This is a playground version of the same dynamic being played out on the Fox News interview; the failure to understand why someone who identifies themselves as being a Muslim would want to have anything to do with Jesus.


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