My Treedom campaign trolls the grinch governments who have stolen Christmas
Photo Credit: Facebook
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While India got well acquainted with the word intolerance this year, it still has the freedom to have itself a merry little Christmas. The same liberties do not exist elsewhere on the continent. On Tuesday, the Sultan of Brunei declared that citizens celebrating Christmas could face five years in jail unless they are Christian and have expressly taken permission from the government to conduct their festivities. The country’s leaders believe that Christmas being celebrated “excessively and openly” could lead its largely Muslim population astray. Breaking the law could also carry a fine of $20,000 (approximately Rs 13.5 lakh) in addition to the jail term.

This isn’t unusual. Tajikistan has also made several kinds of Christmas celebrations illegal, including the use of fireworks, festive meals, gift-giving and raising money, as well as putting up trees in schools and colleges. People in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Syria, Nigeria and Iran also refrain from celebrating the festival for fear of persecution.

In Africa, the Somalian government on Wednesday asked police and intelligence officials to prevent Christmas celebrations in the capital Mogadishu, arguing that the festival “had nothing to do with Islam”.

A social media campaign called My Treedom has encouraged people in these countries to post photos of their Christmas celebrations, which are often held in secret.

Started by a journalist earlier this month, the My Treedom page on Facebook says it stands for “celebrating freedom from persecution and the right to Christmas everywhere around the world.”

The page has received an overwhelming response, with more than 20,000 likes and photos being sent to it from all the over the world. The senders have blurred their faces to protect their identity.

A couple in Brunei.

A play being staged in Gujranwala, Pakistan.

A family sets up a Christmas tree in Malaysia.

A Christmas tree set up at a home in Saudi Arabia. Its sender claimed to have smuggled in the tree from Bahrain. 

In Kobani, Syria, which was recently attacked by the Islamic State.
The campaign has also been extended to Twitter, with the hashtag #MyTreedom being used to post images and express solidarity with those banned from or afraid of celebrating Christmas.