International conflict has arisen after an elite school based in Turkey that is funded by German sources and the government has reportedly banned Christmas celebrations.

What do we know about the ban?

The school in question, the bilingual Istanbul Lisesi, normally holds Christmas traditions, which have included Christmas cookies, Advent calendars, and singing carols Although the school is funded by the German government, it is still part of the Turkish education system, and is likely bound to the Turkish government's policies, and controversy arose when Turkish authorities announced that the Christmas holiday should be censored at the school.

Reportedly, the school demanded the ban on Christmas in an email sent to teachers.

What have German politicians been saying about the ban?

German politicians have been vocal about being against the censorship. Franz Josef Jung, who serves as the religious affairs spokesman for Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, referred to the action as “totally unacceptable.” Comparing the school as something akin to a private school, Jung also advocated the German government deciding what is dictated at the school as its main source of funding.

Another member of the Christian Democratic Union party, Jürgen Klimke, claimed that the censorship was violating religious freedom, and went as far as suggesting that the German government stop funding the school as a form of protest.

Meanwhile, Andreas Scheuer of the Bavarian Christian Social Union referred to Christmas as being part of German culture, and wrote that a “German school” should reflect that, “no ifs and buts.” Bavarian finance minister Markus Söder also similarly said that the German government should not tolerate this action, in a released statement.

What are Turkish sources saying about the ban?

However, for its part, the school itself has come out to deny claims that it banned the Christmas holiday. The school’s main website has also posted a message titled “Ein frohes Weihnachtsfest,” meaning “Merry Christmas,” with a picture of the school’s roof.

Ruling Justice and Development Party Member of Parliament Mustafa Yeneroglu similarly denied the claims in a released statement, writing that such controversy will bring harm to Turkish and German relations.

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