London, Nov 3 : A council-owned charity in Oxford came up with a plan to ban the word "Christmas" from this year's festive celebrations, and it has earned itself the ire of religious leaders.
The Oxford city council provoked outrage among shoppers, when they confirmed the events in the city would be renamed 'Winter Light Festival' to make them more inclusive.
The name change, which came from the charity Oxford Inspires, a cultural development agency for the county, which runs the celebrations, has caused outrage among the people who want a traditional Christmas.
"I am really upset about this. Christians, Muslims and other religions all look forward to Christmas," the Telegraph quoted Sabir Hussain Mirza, chairman of the Muslim Council of Oxford, as saying.
Fr Brian Van-Dungey, a priest in Garsington, Oxon, also made his views on the matter known.
"I am a Christian and pleased to see my Muslim brothers joining in the condemnation of this stupid and dangerous idea; this sort of thinking creates racial problems and should be stopped in its tracks," he said.
Rabbi Eli Bracknell, who teaches at the Jewish Educational Centre in the city, spoke about the importance of a traditional Christmas.
"It is important to maintain a traditional British Christmas. Anything that waters down traditional culture and Christianity in the UK is not positive for the British identity," he said.
Oxford Inspires spokesman Tei Williams spoke about the Winter Light festival, which goes on for two months and even covers Christmas.
"In Oxfordshire we have Winter Light which is a whole festival spanning two months. Within that festival will be Christmas Carol services," Williams said.
Liz Gresham of Oxford Inspires added: "We changed the name to be more inclusive."
Ed Turner, deputy leader of the council, said that the renaming of the festival was "unfortunate and sends out a problematic message."
"It is the charity's festival. Among councillors there is certainly no desire to downgrade the importance or the prominence given to Christmas," he said.
"There is going to be a Christmas tree and even if the lights are called something else to me they will be Christmas lights," he added.