At a school in Austria, a teacher did as she had always done during Holy Week: she put a small handful of palm fronds in her classroom, of the kind that are given out in churches on Palm Sunday. And she took her students to visit an Easter Market, which, despite its name, has very little to do with the Christian observance of Easter. There was no religious instruction involved at any time. Nonetheless, the father of a Muslim student complained in a letter to the headmaster about what he called “the transformation of my son’s classroom into a church,” and described the visit by pupils to the Easter Market as “unacceptable.” The headmaster, instead of defending the teacher’s actions, reprimanded her and cancelled all such activities – the palm fronds, the visit to the Easter Market – because they “upset” a single Muslim student. More on this disturbing submission can be found here: “Scandal about the cancellation of Easter customs: AHS director with ‘misunderstanding of tolerance,’” translated from “Skandal um Osterbrauch-Absage: AHS-Direktor mit „falsch verstandener Toleranz“,” Unzensuriert, April 4, 2023 (thanks to Medforth):
Palm branches in the classroom and the pupils visiting an Easter market are “Christian fundamentalism” for an Upper Austrian AHS director – he reprimanded the teacher and canceled the Easter tradition.
Palm fronds are made available in churches on Palm Sunday for worshippers to take home. The fronds are then ordinarily attached to a wall, until they are replaced a year later with new fronds, on the subsequent Palm Sunday. Displaying these fronds is hardly the mark of “Christian fundamentalism.” They are there to remind Christians of an event in the life of Christ when he was soon to enter Jerusalem on a donkey. Before he arrived, the city’s inhabitants spread palm fronds on the road he would be taking, so as to make his journey over an irregular road smoother. There is nothing particularly “fundamentalist” about this practice of displaying fronds; the custom is followed by hundreds of millions of mainstream Christians.
Nor is a visit to an Easter Market a sign of “Christian fundamentalism.” This is a ridiculous charge. An Easter Market is simply an open-air market, so named because it is ordinarily open from two-and-a-half weeks before Easter to Easter Monday. Most of what is sold at such an open-air Easter Market consists of conventional arts and crafts – pottery, woodwork, metalwork, glassware, crockery are all sold. Booksellers lay out their wares – used books — on tables. Clothing is sold. There are always lots of stalls selling food at these open-air markets. In Austrian Easter Markets, they serve goulash and wild boar sausage, wine and schnapps and kaffee mit schlag. There may be a face-painter, or someone who draws caricatures of passersby in ten minutes. The only features of the Easter Market that connect it to the celebration of Easter are the painted eggs, baby chicks, and statuettes of Christ on the cross. Otherwise, the Easter Market is no different from any of the thousands of other large open-air markets in Europe, with all their variousness and allure.
A letter from the father of a student whose parents are second-generation Bosnians was decisive for this (over)reaction by the director, who also accused the teacher of “insensitive behavior.” He angrily addressed the school with the following sentences:
Our child is very disturbed by the transformation of his classroom into a church. Even an Easter market is completely unreasonable for M. We will therefore leave our child at home for the time being.
The Muslim father claims that his Muslim child was “very disturbed.” By what? Did someone say a harsh word, look at him sideways, adopt a mocking sneer when speaking to him? Nothing of the sort. It was the appearance of a handful of palm fronds just after Palm Sunday, which, the father claims, led “to the transformation of his classroom into a church.” This is hysterical nonsense, and ought to be have been dismissed as the preposterous exaggeration it is. A couple of thin, pale fronds which might be considered as harbingers of spring do not “turn a classroom into a church.” And the same is true of the visit, meant to be a pleasurable excursion at the beginning of spring for young pupils, to the nearby Easter Market. Why would such a visit be “completely unacceptable”? The father’s arrogant tone, presuming to put in their place both the teacher and the headmaster, is infuriating. He ought to be told that the palm fronds are none of his business, that they have been placed in many Austrian classes for centuries, and neither he, nor his son, are being forced to look at them, or to discuss their significance.
Furthermore, his son could easily have avoided going to the Easter Market, either by choosing to remain at the school during its regular hours, where he could get ahead on his homework, or he could choose to stay home the day of the field trip to the Market.
The state party secretary of the FPÖ Upper Austria, member of parliament Michael Gruber, reacted to this incident with outrage. He said that anyone who comes to us has to accept our values, traditions and culture – bowing down is the wrong way to go. In a broadcast, he also said:
The idea that there should be neither a decoration with palm branches nor a visit to an Easter market: to me, this is another expression of a misunderstanding of tolerance at the expense of our traditions, values and culture.
Gruber spoke of “anticipatory obedience.” Pork would be removed from the menu, the Advent market would be renamed the winter market, the feast of St. Martin would become a parade of lights, and the visit of St. Nicholas would no longer take place at all.
Michael Gruber provides a view of a not-so-distant future, when he foresees that Austrian officials will engage in “anticipatory obedience,” yielding to likely Muslim demands before they are even made. Pork will be taken off menus in schools, hospitals, and prisons. Any references to Christianity, that would surely upset Muslims, will of course be changed. And after this latest complaint by the Bosnian Muslim father, does anyone doubt that that Easter Market will be renamed the “Spring Market”? Gruber mentions that things have come to such a pretty pass in Austria, that officials are not waiting for Muslims to express their deep unhappiness with the references to Christianity, but are prepared without prompting to change the country’s “traditions, values, and culture” even before hearing the Muslims raucously complain of being cooped up in refugee camps in Arab lands circumjacent to Israel.
“If we don’t put a stop to these goings-on, we run the risk of losing our own identity – in the cultural, socio-political and religious spheres.
The teacher and columnist Niki Glattauer – as the newspaper reported today – received a letter from the teacher who had been reprimanded by the AHS director, and took the same line as Gruber. With the following content:
I ask you, are palm fronds fundamentalist and an Easter market for schoolchildren completely unreasonable?
Niki Glattauer replied:</strong
You are asking me? Well, the only thing I find unacceptable, Madam, is the behavior of your management.
It is “the behavior of the management” — that is, the school’s headmaster — that was “unacceptable” when he reprimanded the teacher, taking the side of the Muslim Bosnian father. Instead he ought to have forthrightly defended his teacher, explaining that palm fronds are frequently placed in public places in Austria, and no one has ever before claimed that their presence turns a classroom “into a church,” or said that a class visit to the Easter Market was “completely unacceptable,” which the Bosnian assumed meant it was chiefly religious in nature. But the Easter Market has very little of the religious about it, being chiefly a place where vendors come together to sell arts and crafts, pottery, woodwork, metalwork, clothing, stuffed animals, books, street food – and a good time is had by all, in this family-friendly environment.
The headmaster behaved shamefully both in reprimanding the teacher and in deciding that in the future there would be no palm fronds in classrooms, and no more perfectly innocent school trips to the nearest Easter Market. He allowed himself to be bullied by one man, a Muslim immigrant who behaves as if the country already belongs to him, and it is the indigenous Infidels who must change their ways. A sinister signpost along the way, as Europe, by slow degrees, Islamizes itself.