Apparently it is official: there will be no Christmas in any public form in a sector of Berlin, Germany known as Kreuzberg. It has been banned, according to local German news source MMNews.de:
The district office of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg has abolished Christmas. The authorities do not allow Christmas celebrations in public places or streets. A tree must be placed only in a central, previously assigned by the authorities – reports the “Berliner Zeitung”. Councillor Peter Becker responded to public outcry of the ban by asking, “Why should religious festivals be celebrated in public?”
The censorship was supported by the left-wing councilman as a response to demands by Muslims in the district that they be allowed to celebrate the end of Ramadan in the streets. Due to a fear of noise complaints, council officials decided that the best solution was to ban all religious festivals from being publicly celebrated in the district.
The ban reportedly also applies to Christmas decorations and displays on private property that might be seen by the public.
Other controversial events will still be allowed to take place in the area. According to an interview Becker gave to a local Berlin news outlet, gay and lesbian festivals will still be permitted to take place in Kreuzberg.
The measure also took away honorary awards for citizens based upon religious merit, as left-wing councilors saw no religious service as worthy of consideration.
Peter Storck, a local Protestant church leader, was critical in his response to the developments in Kreuzberg, which he sees as outright discrimination against religious individuals.
â€œState neutrality towards religion and the church should not be misunderstood as â€˜freedom from religion,â€™ this requirement is rather a policy of totalitarian states,â€ Storck declared.
Kreuzberg is an area renown both for its counter-cultural reputation and as a prime destination for Turkish immigrants. A third of its population is composed of immigrants and the most popular political party in the district is the far-left Green Party.