More than 25,000 people in Belgium have signed a petition denouncing a decision to remove the traditional Christmas tree in the central square in Brussels and replace it with a politically correct structure of abstract minimalist art.

Critics accuse the Socialist mayor, Freddy Thielemans, of declaring war on Christmas by installing the “multicultural” structure of lights to placate the city’s burgeoning Muslim population.

Historically, a 20 meter [65 foot] fir tree taken from the forests of the Ardennes has adorned the city’s main square, the Grand-Place. This year, however, it has been replaced with a 25 meter [82] foot new-age-like structure of lighted boxes (see video here). Moreover, the traditional Christmas Market in downtown Brussels is no longer being referred to as a “Christmas Market.” Instead, it has been renamed as “Winter Pleasures 2012.”

The mayor’s office, where more than half of the city’s eleven councilors are either Muslim or Socialist or both, said the structure was part of a theme this year of “light.” City Councilor Philippe Close, a Socialist, said the aim was to show off the “avant-garde character” of Brussels by blending the modern and the traditional to produce something new and different. He added: “The Christmas tree is not a religious symbol and actually lots of Muslims have a Christmas tree at home.”

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