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treesCOPENHAGEN: A Danish housing estate that scrapped its traditional Christmas celebrations shortly after holding a costly Eid celebration has snowballed into an angry nationwide debate amid charges of racism.


Five out of nine members of the tenants' board voted in late October to cancel their annual Christmas tree and party in Kokkedal, 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of Copenhagen.


The vote came shortly after a large communal celebration of the Muslim holiday Eid had been organised by the association.


The issue has since escalated in the Danish media, with a focus on divisions between Muslim and Christian members of the tenants' board.


On Tuesday, some readers of Denmark's national newspapers and users of social media sites were outraged by the decision and the cost of the Eid party, which was said to have been around 60,000 Danish kroner (8,050 euros, $10,200), compared to 7,000 kroner for the Christmas event.


The issue "is another example of how Muslim immigrants cut slice after slice off of our traditions and customs until there is nothing left to cut", reader Mogens Justesen wrote in a comment to conservative daily Jyllands-Posten on Tuesday.


Another reader, Kristoffer Damgaard, said the Muslim majority on the tenants' board "have not yet learned that democracy is not to take away rights from the minority".


The housing estate said a police complaint had been filed against the board for racism, and on Monday a van belonging to national broadcaster TV2 was smashed when it visited the area to cover a petition that wanted to have the Christmas event reinstated.


A member of the anti-immigration Danish People's Party, Martin Henriksen, has meanwhile suggested creating special laws to protect Christmas celebrations in Danish housing associations.


The chairwoman of the tenants' board, Karin Leegaard Hansen, on Tuesday told AFP that a meeting would be held on Wednesday to discuss the issue again, but declined to comment further.


A member of the board, Ismail Mestasi, told media last week that the decision to cancel the Christmas tree and party was taken because no one offered to organise the celebration.


Hansen refuted that, saying she had herself offered to do so.


Copyright Reuters, 2010

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