War on Christmas? Brussels Replaces Traditional Christmas-Tree-in-Square with 'Electronic Fir'

Pete Winn | December 4, 2012 | 12:04pm EST
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Brussels "Electronic Fir" Christmas Tree. (BBC photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Is there a war on Christmas in the city of Brussels?

The Belgian capital has replaced the city’s traditional 65-foot-tall Christmas tree in the center of the city with an even bigger structure of abstract modernist art, “Electronic Fir.”

According to the city’s Socialist mayor, Freddy Thielemans, and city council, the 82-ft. “sculpture” of boxes and lights, created by Paris-based architects Pier Schneider and Francois Wunschel, is designed to be “modern” and “multicultural.”

“What we want is just to modernize the pleasure of winter, of this Christmas market and all the image of Brussels,” Brussels city Councillor Philippe Close, a Thielemans ally, told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

“For people who want a traditional religious symbol, we have the nativity scene here in the square. For people who want modernity, we have this new tree.”

The city also renamed its traditional Christmas market, “Winter Pleasures 2012.”

More than 25,000 people, however, have signed an online petition calling on the city to show “respect for our values and our traditions” and replace the artistic structure, with a “real” fir tree, which historically has come from the nearby Ardennes forest.

A Dec. 8 “revolt” is also being planned at the city’s Grand-Place square, by protesters who say the art work is designed to appease the growing Muslim population in the European Union’s capital.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Muslim community in Belgium told the BBC that his organization doesn’t actually oppose Christmas trees.

“We know we are living in a country with a Christian culture, we take no offense over a traditional Christmas tree," Semsettin Ugurlu, chairman of the Belgian Muslim Executive, said.

The sculpture was installed Nov. 30 and will be on display through Jan. 6.

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