Citizens of Brussels, Belgium have signed an online petition demanding the removal of an 82-foot abstract tree of lights that has replaced the traditional Christmas tree at the town center.
More than 11,000 signatures have already been gathered in the online petition that objects to the techno design. Many have said that the real reason for this new tree is because the mayor's office doesn't want to offend Muslims and non-Christians who don't celebrate Christmas. Some have even called the three "The Pharmacy" for its resemblance to a green cross symbol found outside many chemists offices around the world.
Bianca Debaets, a Brussels councilor from the Christian Democratic and Flemish party, said she believed a "misplaced argument" over religious sensitivities had moved Brussels to put up the light sculpture.
"For a lot of people who are not Christians, the tree there is offensive to them," said Bianca Debaets, a Brussels councilor from the Christian Democratic and Flemish party. She added that a "misplaced argument" over religious sensitivities had persuaded the city to go with the light sculpture instead of the traditional Christmas tree.
"We know we are living in a country with a Christian culture, we take no offense over a traditional Christmas tree," the mayor's office explained, saying that the techno tree was in celebration of the "light" theme for this year.
Tourism councilor Philippe Close added that the idea behind the tree was to show off the "avant-garde character" of Brussels and blend modern and traditional concepts, creating something new.
The traditional 65-foot pine tree from the forests of Ardennes that is usually in place in the city's central square has been the centerpiece of one of Europe's most popular winter markets, the BBC News reported.
"We think the tree has been put up for cultural reasons," said Erik Maxwell from Brussels in an interview with the BBC.
"A tree is for Christmas and Christians but now there are a lot of Muslims here in Brussels. So to avoid discussions they have just replaced a tree with a couple of cubes! I am more traditional, I prefer the usual tree. That's better for the Belgian people," he added.
Semsettin Ugurlu, chairman of the Belgian Muslim Executive, said that his organization has no problem with any kind of Christmas tree, however.
"We know we are living in a country with a Christian culture, we take no offense over a traditional Christmas tree," Ugurlu said.
While the majority of religious people in Belgium are Christians, a recent estimate by Belgian newspaper Le Soir suggests that Muslims make up 22 percent of the population in Brussels.