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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 December 2006, 16:18 GMT
Straw trumpets workplace tinsel
Christmas decoration
Jack Straw said all festivals should be celebrated publicly
MP Jack Straw has urged people to "put tinsel in the office" after reports that Christmas decorations were not welcome for fear of causing offence.

He told MPs he thought it was "total nonsense" to ban the festive frills as even non-Christians appreciated the significance of the birth of Jesus.

In a newspaper column, Mr Straw said he was speaking "on behalf" of the angel Gabriel in expressing his view.

A recent survey of 2,300 employers found 75% had banned decorations.

Mr Straw, when asked for his opinion in the Commons on Thursday, said: "The simple truth is that my Muslim constituents and Muslim friends also wish to see Christmas celebrated.

"What is forgotten by these people who come out with this nonsense is that those of the Mulsim faith honour our prophet, and those of the Jewish religion, as much as they honour their own prophets."

'Prophet for all'

In a column for the Lancashire Evening Telegraph he expanded on his views, saying: "If I may speak on [the angel] Gabriel's behalf, I'm very clear on his view for 2006. Put the tinsel in the office.

"Celebrate Christmas publicly and Muslim and Jewish festivals too, and those of other faiths as well. He [Jesus] was a prophet for all of us."

He said: "I've never met a Christian who isn't delighted to recognise Yom Kippur [the Jewish Day of Atonement], nor Eid, nor Diwali (the Hindu festival).

"Nor have I met a Muslim who denies my right to celebrate the birth of Christ.

"It would be doubly bizarre if that were so, since Christ is one of 'their' prophets as well of one of 'ours'."

He also said he had never met "an atheist, agnostic or anyone who says that people should not be allowed to celebrate mainstream religions".

Mr Straw questioned who was responsible for deeming that Christmas tinsel would offend.

Second guessing

"I would like a big conversation with this person, if they exist.

"But they may not. My suspicion is 'this person' who is the origin of this politically correct nonsense that believes we live in a society of many faiths but that we shouldn't celebrate any of them, only exists in the imagination of those who are ignorant of the nature of our religions, and how they link together.

"So what they do is to second-guess how they think others will or may react, without even asking them."

The survey, by law firm Peninsula, found that 74% of managers were not allowing any festive decorations in their workplaces this year, an increase on 71% in 2005.

As well as potentially causing offence, bosses also felt that Christmas trees and tinsel made offices unprofessional.

Its survey spoke to 2,300 employers across the UK.


SEE ALSO
Firms 'ban festive decorations'
05 Dec 06 |  Business
Cross ban 'inexplicable' - Straw
23 Nov 06 |  UK Politics

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