British Prime Minister David Cameron has used his Christmas message to say that Britain is a “Christian country”, which is why it can be home to migrants of “all faiths and none”.
In his annual address, Mr Cameron especially highlighted the suffering of Syrian migrants and praised the British armed forces fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“That is what we mark today as we celebrate the birth of God’s only son, Jesus Christ — the Prince of Peace,” he said.
“It is because of these important religious roots and Christian values that Britain has been such a successful home to people of all faiths and none.”
Sky News says he went on to speak about the migrant crisis, saying: “If there is one thing people want at Christmas, it’s the security of having their family around them and a home that is safe. But not everyone has that.
“Millions of families are spending this winter in refugee camps or makeshift shelters across Syria and the Middle East, driven from their homes by Daesh [Islamic State] and Assad.
“Christians from Africa to Asia will go to church on Christmas morning full of joy, but many in fear of persecution.”
Another European leader who has been stressing his nation’s Christian roots is Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, although he has said this is why Europe must protect its borders at all costs.
In October, he said that Europe “can be saved”, but only if future generations “take seriously the traditions, the Christian roots and all the values that are the basis of the civilisation of Europe.”
He said the migrant crisis raised important questions: “What sort of Europe do we want to have? Parallel societies? Muslim communities living together with the Christian community?”
“It’s the principle around which the Easter celebration is built. Easter is all about remembering the importance of change, responsibility, and doing the right thing for the good of our children. And today, that message matters more than ever.”
The Catholic Herald called his comments “bizarre” and said they show “he’s scared of proclaiming his Christianity”.
“To be quite frank, a Cameron rendition of Abba’s I Believe in Angels, would have contained more theological conviction than this embarrassing attempt at an Easter message,” the magazine wrote.
In contrast to the Prime Minister, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has decided to break with recent tradition and not issue a Christmas message, unlike his predecessor Ed Miliband who issued messages on Christmas Eve in 2013 and 2014. Mr Corbyn’s decision not to send a Christmas message to Britain’s Christians stands in stark contrast to when he sent a message to British Muslims to mark the festival of Eid in September.