Online HOAX alleges Swedish Christmas lights cancelled because of Muslim demand
Now that Christmas is upon us, the Internet is once again full of hoaxes alleging that Sweden has banned Christmas lights at the request of Muslims. The online hoaxes are spreading around Europe and the USA, alleging that the report is proof of a Muslim assault on "our" Christian traditions and values.
A video has even appeared online that allegedly shows Muslims "attacking" Christmas trees. In actuality, what is being shown is a tradition where, at the end of the Christmas holidays, the last presents are removed from the trees and distributed to children.
The HATE FREE news server, a project of the Czech Government, has reported on the 2016 Christmas hoaxes. False reports about a ban on Christmas lights were first disseminated using an article posted to the website of Swedish television channel SVT.
According to the article, the Swedish Transport Agency, Trafikverket, which takes care of the country's traffic infrastructure, will not be permitting Christmas lights on the lampposts it manages. The agency has justified its decision by saying that it does not have legal permission to supply its own electricity for the lights and that safety questions also play a role.
In the original article, therefore, there is no mention of any connection with Muslims. Neverhteless, it was used to disseminate the hoax, unleashing an avalanche of social media responses, and SVT later updated the article to report that it had been shared in other countries in an absolutely incorrect context.
The second hoax involves a video in which Muslims are allegedly "attacking" a Christmas tree in the Mall of Arabia shopping center in Cairo, Egypt. However, what is actually being shown is a tradition in which, at the end of the holiday, the last presents are removed from the tree and distributed to children.
The tree is designed to be climbed, as is documented by the video footage, which shows that it neither collapses nor is damaged by being climbed. If the video were of an attack on the tree, it would most probably be destroyed.
Christmas is regularly celebrated in many Arab countries. The news server Steemit has also documented the tradition in a video filmed in a mall in the Iraqi city of Duhok.
Those who disseminate anti-Muslim hate online alleged that the footage depicted an "attack" by Kurdish Muslims on the Christmas tree. However, the video clearly shows that the tree is designed for young people to remove gifts from it.
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