'What message is this sending?' Alex Philips furious as Ramadan lights overshadow Easter celebrations in central London

Thursday 28 March 2024

The display of Ramadan lights across central London over the Easter weekend has sparked debate about equal support for other major faiths during important festivals.

Lights in Oxford Street and between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square were switched on earlier this month by London mayor Sadiq Khan to mark the Muslim celebration of Ramadan.

Ramadan occurs at a different time every year due to the alignment of the lunar calendar. This year, Easter falls within the same month.

TalkTV's Alex Phillips reacted furiously to the display, claiming majority Muslim countries would not be as accepting towards Christianity.

"This is the capital city of the UK, a Christian country. Christianity is still our state religion, whether you follow it or not - and we've got a big Islamic festival being celebrated on one of our most important thoroughfares. It's insane.

"In place like Syria and Afghanistan, they don't let us put our Christmas lights up, do they?

"Christianity makes us the country we are today, it underpins our cultural values. This is insulting."

Lights in central London were switched on earlier this month by Sadiq Khan to mark the Muslim celebration of Ramadan.

TalkTV's Alex Phillips said: "In place like Syria and Afghanistan, they don't let us put our Christmas lights up, do they?"

Paul Swaddle, the leader of the minority Conservative group on Westminster council, fully supports the Ramadan lights but questioned why there is no Easter display at Westminster City Hall.

"The thing I would question is this: there has been a Ramadan celebration in the window of Westminster city hall. But I just wonder if the Easter one is going up very soon?" he told The Telegraph.

"Easter is one of the most important Christian festivals of the year, but what are they [the Labour council] doing to celebrate it? I am not aware they are. I suspect the window display is not going to change."

Westminster City Council stated that it "routinely supports" a wide range of other faith activities throughout the year, including Christmas, Easter, Palm Sunday, Eid, Diwali, and Hanukkah.

A spokesman for London's Mayor said: "Sadiq is proud that as Mayor he's stood up for Londoners of all faiths, taking part in a host of festivals and celebrations, including around Easter.

"He's attended churches around both Christmas and Easter, while visiting church-run foodbanks. The Mayor's office continues to help facilitate the world-famous staging of the Passion of Christ in Trafalgar Square, which attracts thousands of people every year.

"Sadiq is immensely grateful for the hand of friendship offered to him by Christian friends and neighbours. This Sunday, he looks forward to joining a local church congregation as they celebrate Easter."