by Denise Half-Black-Half-White-Non-Biased-Female, DP staff
Tuesday, December 13th, 2011,
(Tacoma Park, Maryland) —Ho-Ho-Ho, Merry Christmas…and Al-Salamu Alaykum, too!
Apparently for those playing Santa Claus in shopping malls in Montgomery County, Maryland, learning how to say that phrase in Arabic has become a must, as well as wearing various styles of Muslim headdresses.
Following a county council vote Monday, all actors portraying Santa Claus in Montgomery County will have to replace their iconic red stocking caps with turbans, kufis, or keffiahs for the remainder of the season.
In a county long hailed for its commitment to diversity, yet boasting a Muslim population of only four percent, county officials are still proclaiming Friday’s vote a momentous stride in “making all county residents comfortable” with the time-honored tradition of letting children tell shopping mall Santas what they want for Christmas.
Montgomery County mall Santas have already traded in their white poofball hats for an Islamic headdress of their (or mall management’s) choice, and many are practicing how to say common holiday phrases in Arabic, Farsi, and in rarer instances, Urdu and Amharic. They are, however, still allowed to place Santa’s signature white poofball on top of their Islamic headgear, granted it does not provoke the possibility of provoking a chance provocation with a Muslim resident.
“There are over 65 portrayers of Santa Claus in Montgomery County malls currently,” said county council member Nancy Floreen Monday, “and as our non-Christian population grows, we need to show we as a county can grow. So we are pleased to expect every Santa Claus in a Montgomery County mall to be wearing a turban or kufi by mid-week.”
Added Floreen, “This is not a suggestion or request by the county. This is about diversity. This is about sensitivity. This is why it’s the damn law.”
Veteran mall Santa Vincent Marvaso, 64, said that having to give up his standard Santa Claus cap was hard enough, “but now I have to wish all the kiddies ‘Happy Holidays’ and a jolly ol’ As-Salamu Alaykum…It just doesn’t seem right to me,” said Marvaso.
But a “Ho-Ho-Allahu-Akbar” it will have to be for the dozens of Santas working in the devoutly progressive Washington suburb. Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett hailed the county council’s decision Monday as “a leap of inclusiveness long overdue.”
Said Legget to Duh Progressive, “If this ruling by (the council) makes only one Muslim child feel more welcomed in our community, then it’s worth it.”
Monday‘s vote was mainly the result of a stiff drive by the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a goal the group says it has been pushing for as far back as...what time is it right now? Seemingly oblivious to the fact that Muslim children have a tendency not to be found on Santa Claus’ lap requesting for gifts this time of year, CAIR spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper explained CAIR’s drive for the county’s vote Monday. “A few Muslim parents still feel it’s fun have their kids sit on Santa’s lap and ask for gifts, even if that doesn’t mean they will receive them on Christmas, but perhaps for Ramadan’s zakaat,” said Hooper to reporters. “But also think about this: what if a Muslim child gets lost in the mall and finds himself on Santa’s lap, just asking for help? Would it not be more comforting to that child to have that Santa dressed more appropriately for him? Think about it. If I was a kid and lost, would I want to ask someone in a white hood and robe for help or directions? …This isn’t a joke, folks, this can really happen!”
However, among the expected chorus of Montgomery County’s three objecting Republican parents, several Muslim families have even raised questions over the county’s decision. “I don’t understand why the county has made a (Christian) icon ‘more accommodating’ for us, when we don’t even celebrate Christmas,” said Anwar Shoebat, 43, a Bethesda resident and Muslim father of three. “Don’t get me wrong: Santa Claus is great. He’s a symbol of the season, but why would my kids be on his lap asking for gifts for Christmas? So then why should we care how he’s dressed? Seriously, get a grip, Montgomery County.”
Although according to CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper, even Muslims like Shoebat are failing to see the wisdom of the county’s ruling. Furthermore, said Hooper Monday, Shoebat and others may be failing to stand up for their faith and “may be lacking appropriate pride” in their identity in a county that is 96% non-Muslim, and a nation only 0.6% Muslim (according to the 2010 census). Said Hooper, “Look, I can’t help if some Islamic parents aren’t as haphazardly offended by every single thing as we are, but the fact is that seeing Santa Claus dressed in a way that at least does not include some Islamic reference is quite offensive to us…all two of us.”
“Ho-Ho-Ho, Allahu Akbar!” said White Flynt Mall’s Santa Claus Tuesday afternoon to three-year-old Tucker Wilcox of Rockville, MD, “and what would you like the Prophet Santa al-Claus to bring to you this Christmas, or Holiday?” Following a burst of culturally perplexed tears from Wilcox, Santa removed the boy from his urine-soaked lap, commenting to reporters, “There goes another one. He just doesn’t understand –poor thing. I’m trying to be diverse here. This is my job now. Perhaps ‘Allahu Akbar’ isn't the best thing to say to the kids. I knew I should have just stuck with calling them infidels.”
UPDATE: Veteran mall Santa Claus Vincent Marvaso, 64, was terminated Tuesday from his job at Westfield Montgomery Mall, after publication of his description of the county’s new ordinance as not “seeming right to him.” A psychological evaluation has been ordered by Montgomery County officials.
UPDATE on UPDATE: Contrary to wide belief, Duh Progressive’s creator is not on drugs. However, the night is young…