Williams and Carey on Christmas

The Daily Telegraph reports on comments by Rowan Williams and George Carey (respectively, the current and previous archbishops of Canterbury) defending Christmas against these misguided “false accommodations” involving removing explicit mention of Christmas and other things which Williams puts down to “silly bureaucrats”. I’d agree with this statement by Williams:

“It’s not the Christmas pudding that the authorities will be coming for but the Christmas crib, if some people have their way.

“And it’s all because of a quite wrong-headed idea that our neighbours from other religious traditions will be offended by Christian symbols.

“The truth is they’re usually much happier with the idea of a Christian festival than with some general excuse to have a good time in midwinter.”

However, Carey manages to put his foot in it by lazy use of terminology:

Lord Carey raised the case of Sam Morris, the Derbyshire girl sent home for wearing a crucifix because it contravened her school’s no-jewellery rule.

“It’s not jewellery at all. It’s an expression of our faith and I’m glad that many people have risen up against that and said it’s nonsense.

“It may come from a certain nervousness - maybe it’s excited by the visibility of Muslims in our country, with some girls wearing burkhas.”

Where on earth are girls wearing “burkhas”? A lot of Muslim girls wear hijabs (headscarves), and a few, as far as I know all at Islamic schools, cover their faces as well. Burqa (not burkha, take note) refers to neither or these, but to the all-covering veil/coat worn by some Afghan and Pakistani women, and to a particular type of black veil worn by women in the Gulf region. Women who cover their faces here call their veils niqab. Come on Mr (sorry, “Lord”) Carey, brush up on your facts before opening your mouth or putting pen to paper.

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