Chris Johnson, Daily Mail (London), December 4, 2008
A primary school infuriated parents after cancelling the traditional Christmas nativity play to make way for the Muslim festival of Eid.
Parents at the Nottingham school were told that the planned performance had to be pulled because some of the pupils wanted to celebrate Eid at home with their families.
In a letter, sent by the staff at Greenwood Junior School, mothers and fathers were told: ‘It is with much regret that we have had to cancel this year’s Christmas performances.
‘This is due to the Eid celebrations that take place next week and its effect on our performers.’
However, following a barrage of complaints, a second letter was issued saying the show had ‘not been cancelled outright’ but has been postponed until the New Year.
The follow-up letter, sent by headteacher Amber Latif and chair of governors Yvonne Wright, apologised for the ‘misunderstanding’ caused by the first correspondence.
It read: ‘We are a very inclusive school and fully respect the cultures and religions of all the children.
‘We are upset to know that some of our parents/carers have been offended by the letter.
‘The Christmas performance has not been cancelled outright but has been postponed until the New Year.’
Mum Janette Lynch, whose seven-year-old son Keanu attends the school, said she was angered that the performance had been moved until after Christmas.
She said: ‘The head has a whole year to plan for Eid and so she should be able to plan for both religious festivals.
‘I have never heard of this at a school. It is the first year my son has been there and a lot of the mums like me were really looking forward to seeing the children in the nativity.
‘I think it’s wrong it has been moved to after Christmas.’
The school has also sent out a timetable of events to mark Eid ul-Adha, or ‘greater Eid’, which is the second of the two Eid festivals.
It lasts for two or three days and starts on Monday or Tuesday next week.
Muslim children will be off school for the religious holiday.
Sajad Hussain, 35, of who has two children at the school said: ‘My children will be off for the two days next week to see their family.
‘It’s not that complicated; they could have one event on one day and another on another day, they should have both celebrations at the school.
‘If you do not have both it becomes a racist thing and that’s why you have to be careful if an issue is made out of it it could become nasty.’
Yesterday, a statement issued by the school said: ‘We would like to apologise for any confusion caused as a result of [the original] letter we sent out and would like to reassure parents and the community that Christmas has not been cancelled at Greenwood Junior School.
‘As a multi-faith school, like many schools in Nottingham City, we represent a wide variety of faiths and due respect is given to each one appropriately.
‘For very practical reasons we have taken the difficult decision to re-arrange some significant events on the school calendar to ensure maximum pupil and staff attendance.’
The next two weeks are brimming with festivities for both Eid and Christmas that the children are really looking forward to.