Next Year, In Brunei

Yo: Merry Effin’ Christmas –to you and you and youse!  As a long-time heathen/pagan/infidel who has chafed under the ideological yoke of “the most wonderful time of the year” for lo-these-many-decades, every December I yearn for an exotic holiday getaway destination where Christmas isn’t celebrated  … but where the locals won’t kidnap and behead me.  Things finally may be looking brighter: I’m heartened this Christmas season of 2015 by welcome news from some most unlikely sources.  Yes, I’m talking about Brunei, Somalia and –wait for it– occupied Jerusalem.

Somalia has issued a ban on Christmas celebrations in the Muslim-majority country after the Southeast Asian sultanate of Brunei announced a similar prohibition earlier this month with the threat of five years in jail.  Sheikh Mohamed Khayrow, director general of Somalia’s religious affairs ministry, declared on Tuesday that “All events related to Christmas and New Year celebrations are contrary to Islamic culture, which could damage the faith of the Muslim community.”

Similarly, Brunei’s Sultan Hassan al Bolkiah has also banned public celebrations of Christmas. The government warned last year that Muslims would be committing an offense if they so much as wore “hats or clothes that resemble Santa Claus.”  “Using religious symbols like crosses, lighting candles, putting up Christmas trees, singing religious songs, sending Christmas greetings … are against Islamic faith,” imams said in sermons published in the local press.


24/7 carols in the malls and stores?  Salvation Army kettles and bells on the street corner? Pretty sidewalks, city sidewalks, full of holiday cheer?  Fuhgeddaboudit.  Jesus of Nazareth (PBUH) may rank right up there as one Allah’s greatest prophets, but it’s blasphemy to claim that he’s the Son of God, etc.  No Christmas celebrations for you.

And over in occupied Palestine, there’s a Jewish zealot who feels the same way:

Benzion Gopstein, the leader of the right-wing Jewish group Lehava, has called for a ban on Christmas in Israel and the expulsion of Christians, describing followers of the religion as “blood-sucking vampires.”  “Christmas has no place in the Holy Land,” Gopstein was quoted in the Israeli press as saying. “Missionary work must not be given a foothold. Let’s throw the vampires out of our land before they drink our blood again.”  In August, Gopstein called for Christian churches in Israel to be burned down.

Gopstein [later] said he had been misquoted and only called Christian missionary groups “vampires” –not all Christians.

So … I’m just wondering: if traditional vampires can be repelled with garlic and a crucifix, what does it take to ward off Christian vampires?  Stanky gefilte fish and a Star of David?  Any suggestions are welcome, but actual empirical evidence will be required –or an ironclad citation from the holy scripture of your choice.


Pack your bags

Let’s review next December’s vacation options:

  • Somalia:  khat, civil war, pirates and al-Shabab insurgents who kidnap for ransom
  • Israel:  racist apartheid state perpetually on the brink of political implosion
  • Brunei:  oil-rich sultanate on the island of Borneo, member of ASEAN and OPEC. Beautiful tropical sunsets.


Hmmmmmm.  Maybe fraternal socialist Cuba instead?  Shorter flight, rum for those who want it, great music and cigars.  Navidad might be OK there, at least until the Yanqui capitalists regain their commercial and cultural toehold.  And we’ll always have Brunei as a backup.


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