School near Milan cancels Christmas over concerns about offending Muslims

School near Milan cancels Christmas over concerns about offending Muslims
Marco Parma

What’s Italian for grinch? Marco Parma, 63, headmaster of the Garofani Comprehensive School in the town of Rozzano, outside of Milan, is a contender for that dubious title this year.

In case you thought the war on Christmas was confined to the U.S.A., think again.

According to The Guardian, Parma is taking heat for his announcement that the school’s Christmas concert for primary school pupils will be replaced this year by a “winter concert.” And lest there be any ambiguity about his efforts to strip the event of any religious trappings, the concert will not be held until January and will be devoid of Christmas carols. This in a country whose official state religion is Catholicism and in which 83.3% of the population is Christian.

Parma’s decision, he told reporters, was influenced by an an unhappy experience last year:

Last year we had a Christmas concert and some parents insisted on having carols. The Muslim children didn’t sing, they just stood there, absolutely rigid.

It is not nice watching a child not singing, or worse, being called down from the stage by their parents.

“In a multi-ethnic environment, it causes problems,” he added. The school, which has an enrollment of around 1,000 students, is estimated to be 20% non-Christian, the bulk of that minority comprised of Muslims.

So much for assimilation.

The unpopular decision reached up to the highest levels of the Italian government, earning a rebuke from Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who told told Sunday’s edition of Corriere della Sera:


Parma said he is prepared to resign rather than back down on his decision — an eventuality that may yet happen. Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing, anti-immigration Northern League, has called for Parma to be fired immediately.

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer.

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