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Turkish Muslim Nationalists Put Gun to Santa’s Head to Protest Christmas

A group of young Turkish Muslim nationalists protested Christmas and New Year’s celebrations in Turkey last week by putting a gun to the head of a man dressed as Santa Claus during a demonstration in the country’s western province Aydin.

Their goal was to bring the Turkish people “back to their roots” by carrying out their war on Christmas and the New Year — two Western celebrations.

The group behind the demonstration is Alperen Ocakları (Turkish for “Alperen Hearths”). They are described as a nationalist-fascist group. In a video clip posted to social media, the leader of the group says, “Our purpose is for people to go back to their roots. We are the Muslim Turkish people who have been leading Islam for thousands of years. We will not celebrate Christian traditions and disregard our own traditions like Hıdrellez, Nevruz and other religious and national holidays.”

He adds, “We have organized this protest to send a message against Christmas celebrations and to remind people that we should be celebrating our own national holidays instead.”

A sign in the background reads, “Noel Kutlamiyoruz,” which means, “We don’t celebrate Christmas.”

Shocked passers-by watched as the demonstrators — wearing “efe” or “Aydin Efe Zeybek Kostümü,” the name for the traditional Turkish costumes from that region — danced the traditional “zeybek” dance.

The demonstration coincided with several other protests throughout Turkey against Christmas and the new year. Similar protests have taken place in previous years.

Last year, a small radical nationalist Islamist party — the Great Unity Party (BBP) — staged a “street play” in the city of Bolu, featuring a repentant Santa Claus converting to Islam and reciting the Muslim profession of faith, or Shahada.

The play was a sequel to a play the year before in which Santa Claus was shamefully expelled from town by a man dressed as an Ottoman sultan.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter and Periscope @AdelleNaz.

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